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RHYS LEWIS, 



Minister of Bethel: 



AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY 



DANIEL OWEN 



■OBIGINALLT TRANSLATED FEOH THE WELSH 



JAMES HARRIS. 



RCVinED COITION 



"cH£.i^«.....i,,.,^sa'''' 



WREXHAM: 
SuoHEs AND Son, Publishers, Principality Press. 

1915. 



(3°i 



185637 



PREFACE. 



N 



It has loTij? since struck me that there are more things ia 
Welsh literature than are dreamt of in the average English 
reader's philosophy. One of the best of such things, in ita 
own particular line, that I have come across, is the story of 
which I here present a not very rigidly textual translation, my 
aim having been to act as the author's interpreter rather thaa 
to cling, -with undeviating fidelity, to the extreme niceties of a 
literal rendering. 

For the word "Seiat," in the original, I give "Com- 
munion;" a very beautiful word, in itself, which I trust will 
prove acceptable. The "Seiat" is as peculiarly a Calvinistic 
Methodist Church institution as Calvinistic Methodism is 
peculiarly a Welsh Nonconformist denomination. Originally, 
no doubt, a corruption of the English word ** Society," 
*' Seiat," has, by long user, acquired a special signification 
for which "Society" would now furnish but a meaningless or 
absurd equivalent ; as, I think, the English reader who takes 
the trouble to try the word in the text will at once see. 

There is, I kno^, one objection to "Communion;" but, 
after weighing it against the many objections which exist to 
each and all of the other words suggested, I had no difficulty 
in discerning the side of the scale which kicked the beam. 

Slips, I fear, the book is almost bound to contain, the 
exigencies of publication, in view of the holding of the 
National Eisteddfod of Wales at Wrexham, having demanded 
a high pressure rate of work such as I did not at first con- 
template. 

I am sure, however, that that large English public to which 
I appeal, will be no less indulgent to me than the compara- 
tively limited Welsh one has been before which the author 
made his first appearance ; and that, as he was, so shall I be, 
given the chance of successive editions in which to rectify my 
mistakes. 

THE TRANSLATOR. 

Cardiff, August 2Qth, 18S8. 



PUBLISHERS' NOTE. 



The translator, in his Preface to the original edition, referred 
to the " high pressure " brought to bear on the process of 
issuing the book at that time ; an unexpected demsmd for 
the delivery of the book by a certain date, and the consequent 
" rush " for copy, led him to anticipate the probability of 
" slips " appearing in that Edition. 

Unfortunately, this proved to be the case, but in ttas 
Edition a more faithful rendering into English of the idioms 
peculiar to certain districts in North Wales is presented to the 
reader. 

For instance, to North Walians the term " Communion " 
means " The Lord's Supper," and therefore it is inappropriate 
as an equivalent for " Seiat," by which term is meant the meet- 
ing together of those persons received into full membership of 
the Church, and who assemble once a week for the purpose 
of relating their spiritual experience, &c. The word " Society " 
has replaced " Communion " where the latter stood for 
" Seiat." 

There were several other slips, such as " clean shoe " for 
" clen shoe." The latter expression is in common us© in many 
North Wales districts, and like " fine," " grand," " champion," 
"ripping," "spiffing," and the Lancashire "gradely," conveys 
different shades of meaning to those acquainted with its use. 
Other words have been dealt with, and we hope that the altera- 
tions made will make this remarkable novel still more acceptable 
to those who are interested in the idioms, sayings, doings, 
customs, views, etc., in both the social and religious circles of 
North Wales some sixty years ago. 

Since then great changes have gradually crept into the 
social and religious life of the people, but this story of a past 
period told by Daniel Owen is the most treasured of all Welsh 
novels ; why this should be, is best left to the reader to discover. 

THE PUBLISHERS. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER. 

i:srTRODUCTION 
I. BIOGRAPHY .. 
II. MY BIRTH 

III. EARLIEST I:EC0LLECTI0NS 

IV. EVAN JONES oF GWERNYFFYNOX, HUSBANDMAN 
Y. THE children's MEETING 

VI. THE IRISHMAN 
VII. THE TWO SCHOOLS 
VIII. UNDER INSTRUCTION . . 
IX. CHURCH MATTERS 

X. THE SUBJECT OF EDUCATION 
XI. WILL BRYAN ON THK NATURE OF A CHUECH 
XII. ON THE HEARTH 
XIII. SETH 
XIV. WILL BRYAN 

XV. THE BEGINNING OF TROUBLES 
XVI. THE DAY OF TRIAL . . 
XVir. FURTHER TRIALS 

XVII]. THOMAS AND BARBARA BARTLEY 
XIX. ABEL HUGHES 
XX. THE VICAR OF THE PARISH 



PAGE. 

7 

9 

11 

13 

16 

22 

27 

33 

40 

41 

56 

64 

73 

81 

92 

100 

110 

122 

131 

139 

149 



VI. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER. 

XXI. 

XXII. 

XXIII. 

XXIV. 

XXV. 

XXVI. 

XXVII. 

XXVIII. 

XXIX. 

XXX. 

XXXI. 

XXXII. 

XXXIIl. 

XXIV. 

XXXV. 

XXXVI. 

XXXVII. 

XXXVIII. 

XXXIX. 

XL. 

XLI. 

XLII, 



CONVERTS 

A VISIT FROM MORE THAN ONE RELATION 

BOB 

REMINISCENCES, SAD AND CONSOLATORY 

AN ELEGY IN PROSE 

DEGENERACY AND AN APPARITION . . 

DAYS OF DARKNESS 

MASTER AND SERVANT 

THE CLOCK cleaner's ADVICE 

THE POACHER . . 

DAVID DAVIS 

THE MULTITUDE OF COUNSELLORS .. 

MORE OF WILL BRYAN 



PAGE. 
158 
169 
180 

192 
204 
214 
226 
237 
250 
263 
278 
290 
304 



THOMAS BARTLEY ON COLLEGIATE EDUCATION 318 



TROUBLOUS 

A WELL-KNOWN CHARACTER 

THOMAS BARTLEY VISITS BALA 

A FORTUNATE ENCOUNTER.. 

WILL BRYAN IN HIS CASTLE 

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF WILL BRYAN 

THE FIRST TIME AND THE LAST . . 

THE MINISTER OF BETHliL 



332 
344 
359 
378 
390 
405 
417 
427 



EHYS LEWIS, 

MINISTER OF BETHEL. 



AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 



INTRODUCTION, 



The Minister of Bethel has now for some time been peacefully 
reposing beneath the turf of the valley. In his day he was 
reckoned a wise and an unassuming man, those best acquain- 
ted with him being wont to say there was more in him than 
was seen on the surface. Although as a minister of the Gospel 
he was "a public character," as it is called, he was always 
averse to making a parade of himself. As a preacher he was 
not popular, chiefly because he could not sing, which was a 
great drawback. Nevertheless, he had at all times something 
to say which was well worth the listening to; and I have 
heard men of mature judgment aver that his sermons, were 
they printed, would compare favourably with the best produc- 
tions of the Welsh pulpit. Indeed, the few things from his 
pen which appeared in the Tradarian were attributed to 

Dr. , and were read with avidity. In those days, writers' 

names were not appended to their productions in that valuable 
quarterly. Even if they had been, probably no one would 
have gone to the trouble of reading the contributions of Ehys 
Lewis. 

His pastorate was, on the whole, a happy and a successful 
one. It must be admitted, however, that this was but an acci- 
dent of the situation, due chiefly to the fact that the majority 
of the Church to which he ministered were possessed of a good 
deal of common sense and just a little of Christian feeling. 

Although he could be pleasant and sociable enough in com- 
pany, he always preferred the seclusion of his library. There 



RHYS LEWIS. 



were times when, forgetting himself, he indulged too much 
this love of solitude, and on more than one occasion the 
deacons felt compelled to call his attention to the neglect of his 
public duties. He occasionally suffered from lowuess of spirits, 
and it was thought by some people that something weighed 
upon his mind, the nature of which not eyen his nearest and 
dearest friends were cognisant of. Others, again, attributed 
the cause to a disordered nervous system. Possibly the follow- 
ing history, of his own composition, may throw a little light 
upon the question which of the two suppositions was correct. 

The Minister of Bethel died in the midst of a useful career, 
and whilst he was yet comparatively young, without a single 
blot upon his character. Recently, while under direction of 
the executrix, arranging the books of the deceased, preparatory 
to their sale, I lighted upon a bulky M.S., which, on examina- 
tion, I found to be autobiographical. Thinking there might be 
something of interest in it, I obtained permission to take it 
home with me, where, as soon as I found leisure, I gave it a 
careful perusal. Apart altogether from the fact that the writer 
explicitly says so (as will be seen hereafter), the order and con- 
text of the M.S. make it obvious that he did not intend it to be 
printed. So pleased, however, was I by the perusal that I asked 
consent to publish the work, which I now give to my readers in 
the hope that they will derive from it a satisfaction equal to 
my own. At the same time, I feel that some apology for its 
appearance is necessary. The opening chapters are childish 
and fiivolous, although harmless. They are, however (so I 
believe), faithful to Nature, and reflect the feeling and ex- 
perience of a great many. As the history proceeds it gathers 
strength and solidity. Furthermore, it will be found to contain 
descriptions of some remarkable old characters, worldly and 
religious. For obvious reasons, I have changed the names of 
the author and others who are referred to, which is all the 
liberty with the text I felt I had the right to take. Lest the 
reader should meet with anything in these pages not exactly to 
his taste — as, for instance, that free treatment which sometimes 
borders on the profane, or an over minuteness of description— I 
must ask him to bear constantly in mind the fact that the 
author did not write his history with a view to its publication. 



RHYS LEWIS. 



CHAPTER I. 

BIOGRAPHY. 

In my time I have read many biographies, and I can neither 
measure nor value the amusement and instruction I got thereby. 
Theie is, possibly, quite as much genius— sense, at any rate — 
in biography as there is in any branch of literature, for the 
reason, it may be assumed, that the author generally knows^ 
something of his subject, which is not always indispensable in 
other directions. At the same time, however ably and faith- 
fully the biographer may describe the public character of his 
subject, we are frequently grieved to think how little he knew, 
after all, of the inner consciousness of the man. "We feel also, 
how well it were with the biographer, and with the reader like- 
wise, had he been able to put questions to the man long lying 
in his peaceful grave. It is here that autobiography has a 
groat advantage over biography ; although, on second thoughts, 
I fancy a life-history written by another, and not by the subject 
himself, is the more trustworthy after all. True, there are 
facts and feelings at the command of the man who writes his 
own life, which another, let his talent and fidelity be what they 
may, can never obtain. Nevertheless, when one writes his own 
history, and is at the same time conscious of the fact that it is 
to be published, he becomes the prey of diffidence, of a fear lest 
others may think he has over-estimated himself; the con- 
sequence being that he does not claim for himself the character 
and station which would unhesitatingly be assigned him by 
another. 

I have many times thought I should like to have an accurate 
memorial of the life of an oidinary individual like myself. In 
all the biographies I have read the subjects were great and 
remarkable in some way or another, had moved in circles I 
could never enter, and had passed through circumstances to 
which I was wholly strange. And although I knew it to be 
possible it was these considerations which made the memoir 
worth the writing, I, at the same time, felt how delightful it 
would be to read the history of a commonplace man — one who 



lo J^HYS LEWIS, 



had moved in circles and met with experiences similar to my 
own. Are there not thou.:ht8 and feelings that were never 
given utterance to simply because they were commonplace, in 
the same way that many of Nature's beauties remain unnoticed 
because they are everywhere met ? Is want of loveliness the 
reason why the daisy has not attracted the attention of the 
florist, and kindled the enthiisiasm of the bard? Or is it 
because the flower is seen in every field, and trodden upon by 
every cow ? Did the robin redbreast and the gold-finch begin 
to descant upon the beauties of Nature, the modest primrose 
would oome in for a goodly share of their praise, although it is 
but the untrimmed hedge-row which the flower adorns. I am 
inclined to think the man was never born of whom the houest 
life-history would not be interesting. Are there not, in every 
career, circumstances worth the chronicling, thoughts of the 
heart to which neither their owner nor anyone else has given 
voice? I have often fancied that one great difference between the 
common man and the uncommon was that the latter could give 
expression to what he thought and felt, while the former either 
could not or would not attempt to do anything of the kind. 
What made me think so was this : — When reading some 
eminent author, or listening to leaders of congregations, I in- 
stinctively perceived they were saying nothing wholly new to me, 
but merely that they were able to give form to, and set forth in 
words, that which I myself had either felt or thought previously, 
but which I was wholly unable to express; in other words, 
that they were able to read those heart-secrets which I had for 
years been trying in vain to spell. I was already conscious of 
the possession of such thoughts and feelings ; but they were 
asleep, or rather napping, and all the masters did was to knock 
at the door of the sleeping apartment, with such effect that its 
occupants rubbed their eyes and sprang up. 

I have a mind to write the history of my own life, not for 
others, but for myself; certainly not for print, but rather as a 
help to self-communion. I know well enough there is no fear 
of any one's writing my biography after I am dead. A hundred 
years hence no one in this world will know more about me than 
if I had never been. With thousands upon thousands of my 
contemporaries, I shall be reposing peacefully in the silence of 



RHYS LEWIS, IT 



oblivion. And yet I do not like the thought of this ; although, 
\^hat help is there, since it is the fate of all of us, the common 
people? Why is man so unwilling that his name shall be 
forgotten after his death, when nor remembrance nor forgetful- 
ness can do him either ?ood or evil ? The dead, I imagine, 
derive quite as much satisfaction from the stone which marks 
their resting place as do those tender friends who placed it 
there. Their bones lie easier with a memorial overhead ! Im- 
mortality ! hast thou aught to do with this ? 

I want to write my own history, I say ; but not, thank 
Heaven, to print it, for were that the case, I should not be then, 
as I am now, able to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing 
but the truth, because I should have the reader to study as well 
as myself. Rhys! what hare you to say for yourself? Be 
sure you tell the truth. This I shall do, and should either 
friend or relative meet with my writing, be it known to him 
that 1 have not one word thereof to witudraw. 



CHAPTER II. 

MY BIETH. 

When first struck with the notion of writing my own life I 
thought I should be able to do so without help from any living 
fioul. How foolish of me ! I see at the outset I must depend 
entirely upon the testimony of others with respect to the 
earliest portion of ray existence; and, inasmuch as I am 
determined to stick to facts, I shall confess that I do not re- 
member anything of the occasion when I first came into the 
world. 

In view of this failing of memory, I think I can wholly rely 
upon the evidence of my mother. She told me, more than once, 
it was between two and three o'clock in the morning, on the 
5th of October, 18 — , that I first saw the light of a haltpeniiy 
candle. Whether because I felt offended at the poverty of the 
preparations made for my arrival, or that it was for some other 
reason I seemed so cross and yelied and screamed so, the two 
female neighbours who were present at the time were quite un- 



12 RHYS LEWIS. 



able to determine. They, anyhow, made up their minds that I 
was an inconsiderate, unfeeling little wretch for making such a 
noise, aware as I was, or ought to have been, that my mother 
was so ill that morning. Of this much I am certain, I was not 
consulted at all upon the occasion, and it is possible that is wjiat 
made me so ill-tempered and unreasonable — which, of course, 
is only surmise, and not to be set down as sober fact. If I were 
not perfectly sure that my mother never told the thing which 
was untrue, I could hardly believe myself to have been at that 
period of my life, as I nearly am now, bald-headed and tooth- 
less ; that my nose, commonly considered Roman in shape, was 
not only flat, but like the new moon had its two ends turned 
up, and that so fleshy was I that there were holes in my elbows 
and knees, where there are now, goodness knows, nothing but 
protruding bones perceivable. 

I do not remember, either, a time when I could not, or was not 
tolerably ready to walk ; but my mother told me, for all that, 
that I was altogether averse to the process once, and did 
nothing but lie on my back, crying and kicking, unless I found 
someone to carry me. Although possessing no recollection of it, 
I regret having been guilty of so much misbehaviour. I marvel 
to think three years of my life should have passed which I know 
nothing of from memory ; and if those who were best acquainted 
with me during that period, and in whose truthfulness I could 
rely, were to bring the very worst accusations against me, I 
should have nothing to do but believe them. Could I at that 
time have had reason, memory, feeling ? Was I but a lump of 
living clay ? If so, whence came reason, memory, and the like 
to me? 

One thing I possessed, I know, from the testimony of my 
mother— and I fear I possess it even yet in too great a degree- 
namely, the spirit of mischief. I broke, so she told me, a groat 
many things ; and I know she told the truth. I smasiied the 
few ornaments she owned ; I scratched the faces and pulled the 
hair of divers of my relations and neighbours. I dragged one 
voung girl's earring right through her flesh, causing the 
blood to stream down upon her shoulder. I squeezed the life 
out of three young kittens, and committed a number of other 
atrocities, such as it is not pleasant to have to admit, even to one- 



RHYS LEWIS. 13 



Belf, although I am not conscious of any guilt on their account. 
What surprises me most is that everyone should have been so 
taken with me, and behave towards me as if I had been a source 
of profit to everybody, when, in reality, I was good for nothing at 
all, and not only that, but a source of worry and trouble. My 
mother lost much of her sleep on my account, and was scores of 
times obliged to get up in the middle of the night to dose me 
with Cinder Tea. Upon occasion I used to cry for hours 
at a stretch, and inasmuch as I had taken it into my head not to 
talk for a matter of two years or so, no one knew what I cried 
for. And yet, for all that, I heard my mother saying she 
would not take the world for me — even when I screamed my 
loudest. 

I grew up a great lump of a fat fellow, considering I lived 
almost entirely on milk ; but, my weight notwithstanding, my 
neighbours used to compete for the pleasure of carrying me. 
It seems that I liked being without teeth, because when those 
parts of mo began making their appearance I became very 
troubled in spirit, so much so that I experienced a falling ofif in 
flesh. I have been told that so greatly did I give way to bad 
temper on their account that I fell, ultimately, into convulsions. 
How mad it was of me ! Would to heaven I were to experience 
the same ailment now. There is, however, one advantage in 
being as I am at present ; no one is able to throw anything in 
my teeth. 

Well, enough of the period of which I have no recollection. It 
is with much greater pleasure that I turn to a time I know 
something about from personal experience and memory. 



CHAPTER ni. 

EARLIEST RECOLLECTIONS. 

I BELIEVE, nay, am certain, that one of the first things I re- 
member is going to chapel with my mother. I am not sorry 
my earliest recollections should be associated with the chapel. 
Dear old chapel ! Many an imprint hast thou left upon my 
memory ; and upon my conscience too, I trust. Whether it 
was the first, or the second, or the twentieth time I went there, 



14 J^HYS LEWIS. 

or divers times which have fused themselves together in my 
memory, -which created so deep an impression upon me, I can- 
not now determine, but sure I am that, taken in my mother's 
hand to chapel, I remember finding the journey a very long 
one, and insisting upon being carried the greater part of the 
way. It was a Sunday night, very probably ; the chapol being 
full, and lighted up, not with gas as now, but witQ 
candles. The crowd frightened me, and I burst out crying. 
Mother, I recollect, placed her hand upon my mouth, nearly 
smothering me, and it was not until some one near us gave me 
a Nelson ball that I was comforted. Where have those famous 
sweetmeats gone to ? There is nothing like them in these days. 
Is it I or the sweetmeats that have changed ? The ground iioor 
of the building was very different then from what it is at present. 
It was open, rows of backless benches running across it, and a 
few deep seats being ranged around the walls. In the centre 
there was a large stove, surrounded always by a crowd of 
children with faces red as a cock's comb. Most likely the 
season was winter. 

I remember the Big Seat, the Singers' Seat to its left, and 
Abel Hughes, with his velvet cap, stationed under the pulpit, 
going about every now and then to snuff the candles. I shall 
have something more to say concerning Abel directly. The 
pulpit was built against the wall, so high up that it reminded me 
of the swallow's nest left under the eaves of our house during the 
previous summer. It puzzled me how "the man" (so I styled 
him) who was in the pulpit could have climbed thither, and what 
was his object in doing so ? Was it a habit of his, and did he 
ever get a fall in descending, as I did more than once iu coming 
downstairs ? Did someone carry him down, as my brother 
Bob used to carry me ? 

I wondered greatly no one had a word to say but ** the man 
in the box," and still more that he should have so much. I 
understood not a word of it all with the exception of ♦' Jesus 
Christ," and I fancied at first /le was the " Jesus Christ" whom 
my mother so often spoke to me about. I was expecting him 
every moment to stop talking ; but in vain. After he had 
spoken a long time, according to my reckoning, he put on a 
fierce look, flushed in the face, and shouted loudly. I made up 



EHYS LEWIS. 15 



my mind then that he was not Jesus Christ. I fancied 
him to be " giving it" me rather badlv — what for I did not 
know ; but he looked at me so often that I knew well enough 
it was to me he was referring. So thinking, I began to cry 
again, and had to be half suffocated a second time, and givea 
another Nelson ball before I ceased my noise. 

I looked about me, upstairs and down, and wondered at seeing- 
so many people in the gallery. Were they in the habit of 
sleeping there ? How did they get bads enough ? I found the- 
chapel darkening, and the man in the box looking smaller, and 
appearing to retreat farther and farther away from me, although 
he kept on shouting, higher and still higher. I felt myself 
gathered to my mother, and suddenly — in profoundest slumber 
— lost sight of everybody and everything. I don't know how 
long I slept ; but they had great trouble in waking me, despite- 
the singing of the congregation. I liked the singing much 
better than the sermon, feeling, in some war I could never 
explain, that I understood it. By this time the man in the 
pulpit had sat down. He was wiping the perspiration from his- 
brow, and tying a great cravat loosely about his neck. Seeing 
Abel Hughes mount the pulpit steps, I concluded he was 
going to bring " the man " away upon his back, just as brother 
Bob used to bring me downstairs at home. Great was my dis- 
appointment at finding him stop mid-way and saying something 
to the people, which I subsequently learned referred to the Church- 
progamme for the ensuing week. The greater part of the con- 
gregation then left, but my mother and divers others remained 
behind, and the chapel doors were shut. This made me thinii 
we were never going home again, and I began to cry once more. 
Mother however told me, " in her deed," we should go " just 
directly," and that pacified me a little. Thereupon I saw the- 
man who I imagined had been belabouring me descend from 
the pulpit. I watched closely his progress, fearing he would 
have a fall. He got to the bottom safely. After this I saw 
Abel Hughes lift the linen cloth which covered something in- 
front of the Big Seat, fold it neatly, and put it on one side. I 
wondered at the sight thus brought to view. What lovely 
vessels ! The man who had spoken at such length rose, 
advanced towards them, said something further about Jesus- 



n6 RIIVS LEWIS. 



Chriat, and began to eat of the broken bread placed near. I 
thought he was taking supper, and that having tasted one bit 
and one drop only, the meal was not to his liking. To my 
great surprise I saw him take up the bread, carry it about, and 
give everybody a morsel. Feeling very hungry myself, I 
reflected that despite his treatment of me, he was a decent 
person after all. My mother, when he came to her, took a bit up 
from the plate. I, too, held out my hand, but he refused me. 
Feeling mightily offended with him, I burst out crying afresh, 
and for about the sixth time that night. It was clear now that 
the man owed me some grudge. Mother haii great difficulty in 
soothing me. When the man came round with the cup, I hid 
my face under her cloak, so as not to have to look upon him, 
nor he to have the chance of refusing me a second time. What 
with the darkness of the night and these insults of the preacher, 
I became very cross and ill-tempered, my mother being obliged 
to carry me all the way home. 

How foitunate it is that this history is not intended for 
publication ! Were it otherwise, 1 should not have been able 
to narrate what I have narrated; so simple is it and so childish, 
though true; and, though possibly new to literature, yet not so 
^0 the experience of here and there a reader. 



CHAPTER IV. 

EVAN JONES OF GWERNYFFyNON, HUSBANDMAN. 

►Carrying back my mind to the period of childhood, how 
wonderful the reflection that I am still the same being, spite of 
all the changes that have taken place in my thoughts and 
inclinations ! Comparing the child to the man, how unlike and 
yet how like they are ! I would not for the world deny my 
personality, nor change my consciousness for that of another. 
I have frequently stopped to pity the river Alan at the point 
where it loses itself in the Dee. From Llanarmon-yn-Ial down 
to Cilcain, through the Belan, along the vale of Mold, how 
.brave and bright and beautiful it looks ! But on nearing Holt 



RBYS LEWIS. 17 



its face changes, the sorrow being plainly depicted upon it of 
its pending absorption by the Dee. I do not know how other 
men feel, but as for me, I am happy to think I am ever the 
same being, and I would not for anything it were otherwise, for 
is it not that way madness lies ? " He is beside himself," goes 
the saying, does it not, when we speak of one who has become 
insane ? Well, I am happy in being able to cast back my 
memory and, following the course of my life through its various 
epochs, circumstances and views down to the present hour, to 
reflect that I am individually still the same. And I am even 
more happy to think that, when taking the leap, I cannot tell 
how soon, into the great world of eternity, I shall even then be 
my former self, and that my identity will not, like poor old 
Alun's, be lost in another. How strange and wonderful ! At the 
end of a thousand ages I shall still possess the same conscious- 
ness that I did when walking in my mother's hand to chapel ! 
But to return to my childhood. If I am to tell the truth— as 
I have resolved to do— I must confess that I did not at all relish 
going to chapel. The service was much too long for me. It 
was not always I was able to sleep through it, and when awake 
nothing pleased me but the singing. While the preacher talked 
on and on for ever, as I thought, I suffered intolerable pain in 
the legs, and it was as much as mother could do to soothe me. 
Mother was a Methodist of the Methodists, and clung fast to the 
faith and traditions of the fathers. Blessings on her ! One of 
her most sacred beliefs was in the necessity of a strict observance 
of the Sabbath. I dared not as much as talk of play, or look at 
a toy on the Lord's Day. I was obliged to sit still and look 
serious at a time when I had not the slightest notion of the 
difference between one day and another. Did I become restless 
or sportive, mother would say Jesus Christ was angry with me, 
and that I should never go to Heaven, but would, instead, be 
thrown into the " burning fire." This grieved me greatly. I 
could not for the life of me make out how, if Jesus was as fond 
of little children as mother said he was, he could be so rigidly 
averse to my playing on the Sunday. At last I hated seeing 
the Sabbath approach, knowing I should be sure to offend Jesus. 
On one occasion I asked mother what sort of a place Heaven 
was ? She replied, in an endeavour doubtless to adapt herself 



1 8 RHYS LEWIS, 

to my understanding, that it was a land wherein all the 
inhabitants kept everlasting Sabbath. My countenance fell 
upon the instant, and I told her emphatically I would never go 
there. O ! the blow it gave her ! I see, now, her dear face 
darkening, and the tears coming into her eyes. I threw my 
arms around her neck, and said I would go to Heaven for her, 
my mother's sake, only I hoped that Jesus Christ would let me 
play just a little bit when I got there. 

Poor old mother ! with the best intentions in the world, she 
set about my religious training in the most awkward way that 
could have been devised. Dear old mother ! Ignorant and un- 
educated thyself, thou wert yet, to my mind, the best mother 
in the world. I doubt not but that thy prayers in my behalf, 
have, in some measure, been answered. Now at the age of man 
what would I give for one look at thy countenance ; for one 
more chance of atoning for every ill word I have spoken, and 
every act of disobedience I have committed towards thee ? Dost 
thou know the many trials and temptations I have undergone 
since the day when we escorted thee to the cold churchyard ? 
How I have marvelled that not all my disobedience, not all my 
wicke iness, ever lessened by one single grain thy love for me. 
I have met with many a faithful friend since, but not one who 
loved me like thee— who didst love me more than thine own life. 
Cold is the world, and strange without thee. I have no one left 
who understands me, no one who can enter into my feelings, 
like thee. Before I write auother line, let others think what 
they will of me for so doing, I must pay one more visit to the 
*' rough stone and double -lettered " which covers thy last 
resting-place. 

My Sunday School reminiscences are confused and inde- 
terminate. I am sure, however, of this much— that it was not 
there I was taught my letters. I do not remember ever being 
put to learn the ABC; either I must have known the 
alphabet intuitively, or, what is more likely, mother must have 
taught it me at some period of which I have no recollection. I 
am quite certain my first teacher was Evan Jones, the Owerny- 
ffynon husbandman, and equally certain it was from a little 
book, something like the Primer of these days, he gave me my 
lessons. "What makes me so sure about it is this : that it was 



RHYS LEWIS. 19 



as " A b, Ab," I i:sed to speak of Evan to my mother, that 
being my lesson— a b, ab ; e b, eb ; o b, ob, &c. 

A decent old fellow was Evan Jones, who on the Sunday, 
wore a blue coat with bright buttons, and breeches with leggings 
of grey. We were six or seven in Evan's class ; and his method 
of imparting instruction was to take one of us upon his knee and 
give him a lesson whilst the rest indulged in play. After a 
lesson each ail round, Evan considered he had done his duty, 
and at once proceeded to take a nap. Whilst so occupied— his 
chin sunk deeply into his vest, and the great coat collar almost 
level with the top of his head— I reckoned, not once nor ten 
times, the whole of the buttons on his clothing. I remember 
at this very minute their exact number. If I took oath to any- 
thing, I would take it to this, that it was seven buttons he had 
on each legging, five on the knees of his breeches, four on 
each side of his coat, with two behind, and seven upon his 
waistcoat. Eran had an enormous watch— in these days they 
would have called it a timepiece— which he carried in his 
breeches pocket. I asked my mother once, why Evan did not 
wear his watch in his waistcoat pocket after the manner of the 
gentlemen up at the Hall. Her answer was that it was a great 
sin to wear a watch in the waistcoat pocket, and that no one 
ever did so but those who had not '-felt the rope." I did not 
know at that tiice what "feeling the rope" meant; but 1 
fancied it must be some tremendous and incomparable means 
for the making of a good man. So fond was I of Evan Jones 
that I cannot describe my satisfaction ever afterwards at the fact 
that it was in his breeches' pocket he kept his watch instead 
of in his waistcoat. Attached to Evan's watch was a bit of black 
ribbon, attached to that again being a white shell, an old coin, 
and a red seal. 

We, the boys of the class, felt a burning desire to get that 
watch into our hands. One warm Sunday afternoon Evan had 
discharged his duty as usual, and fallen into a profound sleep. 
We knew this to be the case from his loud snoring, which we 
had never previously heard. Here then the long looked for op- 
portunity had come ! Will Bryan, the oldest of us, volunteered 
his services, and to this no one had any objection. The watch 
was abstracted from the sleeper's pocket, and handed round for 



20 RHYS LEWIS. 



inspection, each lad in turn putting it to his ear. The class 
was located in the highest corner of the chapel-loft, known as 
'* Gibraltar," and was consequently a somewhat secluded 
spot. Evan's watch had twice made the circle of the class, and 
was in my hand. We were putting our heads together how 
best to return it to its original home without disturbing the 
owner, when a voice thundered above us the words, ''What are 
you up to here?" In my fright I dropped the watch, smashing 
the glass to atoms ; simultaneously our teacher jumped up as 
though some one had stabbed him in the small of the back. 
The thunderer was Abel Hughes, our superintendent, whose 
velvet-cap-surmounted head was peering angrily over the top 
of the seat. Our teacher was too unnerved to take notice of his 
watch. 

" Is it sleeping you are, Evan Jones ? " asked Abel severely. 

*• No— meditating," was Evan's sheepish reply. 

*' Meditating indeed ! Meditating; and your class playing 
with your watch, eh ? I must bring your case before the 
Teachers' Meeting, sir,"8niflfed Abel, and away he went in high 
indignation. 

While Evan was taking in the situation I began to cry — a 
business I could always get through very effectively. No one 
had touched the watch since it fell from my hands. Evan 
looked at the damaged article and at me alternately, after which 
he picked it up, wrapped it in his handkerchief, and placed it 
in the breast pocket of his blue coat. Seeing the great distress 
I was in, he took me upon his knee and — although I knew he 
believed me guilty of the whole mischief— said soothingly, 
'* Never mind, sonnie ; it is'nt much after all." 

I have thought since it was some sort of a fellow-feeling of 
guilt which made Evan so wondrous kind. Anyhow, the kind- 
ness only made me cry the more, and by the time I got home, 
my eyes were swollen to an extent which made it impossible to 
conceal the story from my mother. All she said to me was, 
*' Well, we will see to-morrow." 

She was as good as her word. She saw ; and I felt. 

I do not know for certain whether the case of Evan Jones, of 
Gwernyffynnon, was brought before the Teachers' Meeting; 
but I have every reason to believe it was, because always after 



RHYS LEWIS. 



that, when Evan settled down for a nap, he strictly charged ua 
to be on the look out, and to be sure to wake him up on the 
approach of Abel Hughes ; to which instruction we were ever 
faithful. I remember well that, as a class, we regarded Abel's 
prohibition of Evan Jones's nap after each had been given his 
lesson, as an act of unpardonable arrogance and tyranny. 

"Were this history to be published some one would perhaps be 
found to say, " How much better the teachers and the arrange- 
ments of the Sunday School are now than they were then." 
Possibly so. Evan Jones was only one of many such ; but 
taking his virtues with his failings into account, he was as good 
a teacher as most of those of our day. Young though I was 
when he died, I have a two-fold respect for him. It was under 
him I learned to read. I have by heart many of my mother's 
sayings concerning him, as for example : — "A man is Evan with 
the root of the matter in him." " Evan Grwernyffynnon is 
greater on his knees than he is up -standing." " Evan knows 
well what it is to feel the cord." " A man of secrecy is Evan 
Jones." " Had Evan as much learning and money as he hag 
grace, he would have been a Justice of the Peace long before 
now, and the occupant of the Hall would be but a beggar in 
conjparison." These maxims of my mother, and many others 
like them, were as Latin to me at the time, and it was only in 
the course of years I came to understand them. It is a pleasure to 
call to mind the days when I was studying my mother's classics. 
As already intimated, I have every reason to believe that Evan 
Jones, despite his faults, was a fine character, and one who 
had proved the great things of our religion. Whiilst in his class, 
I considered his habit of sleeping through a portion of the service 
more of a virtue than of anything else, because it gave us 
children a chance of play. When I call to mind the fact that 
he was compelled to work hard for a livelihood, and to get up 
at five every morning, I can excuse him from the bottom of my 
heart. If I go to Heaven I shall search for him, in order to 
thank him for all he did to me. But how silly of me ! I keep 
thinking of Evan in Heaven in breeches and leggings and a 
blue coat. I cannot picture him otherwise attired. 



i2 RHYS LEWIS. 



CHAPTEE V. 

THE children's MEETING. 

In the days of my boyhood, one of the most precious of religious 
institutions was the Children's Meeting, or according to the 
common name with both young and old, the Children's 
Society. It was invariably held once a week, summer and 
winter; and I think I can certify that not a lad nor a lass, whose 
parents were church members, but was regularly present at it, 
unless prevented by ill- health. Let anyone be absent for two 
nights in succession without sufficient excuse, and Abel Hughes 
would, as sure as the world, call the father or mother to account 
at the next Church Meeting ; and unless a satisfactory reason 
were forthcoming, a public rebuke would be administered for 
the neglect. What a falling off there has been in this matter 
since ! It is almost impossible in these times to keep together a 
Children's Meeting for a few weeks during the winter months. 
And what if the parents were publicly called to account for 
neglecting to send their children thither ? Fancy for a moment 
reproving Mrs. Dowell, of " The Shop," whose children are not 
seen once in four times at Church Meetings. Save us ! 
Were anything of the kind to be attempted, it is doubtful 
whether she or her children would ever again come to chapel, 
let alone to the Society. But were Abel Hughes now 
alive, he would have called Mrs. Dowell to account, and many 
another Mrs. too, be the consequences what they might. Of a 
certainty, he would have told them that the Church of iingland 
was their place, and that the sooner the better they went there. 
Have all the race of honest elders died out ? I am bound to 
admit that many of them were outspoken to the verge of rude- 
ness, but, for all that, they possessed a probity and a sincerity 
standing out in strongly favourable contrast to the present 
generation of bland and velvety religionists. 

As soon as I could repeat the verse, *' Remember Lot's wife," 
I had to sj,il o-ff to the Children's Society, under convoy of 
Vv'iii Bryan, wno was some years my senior. In connection 



RHYS LEWIS. 23 



with my history I shall often be obliged to refer to Will Bryan 
— sometimes with pain. Perhaps it would hare been better for 
me had I never seen him. although at one time I thought he 
never had his equal in the world. I was dreadfully slow at 
learning a verse, and on that account, " Remember Lot's wife" 
had to serve my turn for some score of occasions, a fact, by the 
way, of which my mother knew nothing. She took care to 
teach me a fresh verse for every meeting ; but by the time I got 
there the verse would have taken wing, and nothing would be 
left me under the circumstances but to fall back on " Eemember 
Lot's wife." I well recollect, beginning more than once the 
recitation of a fresh verse, as for instance, *'This is a faithful 

saying, and worthy ; " at which point I broke down, and 

was forced to conclude with the inevitable "Eemember Lot's 
wife." I was such a small boy that this shortcoming was for a 
long time overlooked, and it was not .until the other children 
oegan to call me "Lot's mfe" that I refrained from speak- 
ing about her. 

My constant repetition of this well-known verse gave 
occasion to the conductors of the meeting to make it the subject 
01 frequent discourse, and I fancy I knew all about Lot's wife 
that there was to be known, long before I was five years old. 
Anyhow, I am not aware that my views with regard to the 
Sodomites, the angels, the fire, the brimstone. Lot and his 
family, the pillar of salt, Zoar, &c., have undergone much change 
since. Thus was Scripture history instilled into our minds un- 
consciously. I am almost certain that Biblical knowledge was 
much higher and more perfect in the youth of those days than 
in those of this " enlightened age." Not long since, I happened 
to ask the son of Mrs. Frederick Dowell of " The Shop," who 
is quite fifteen years old, "Who was Jeroboam.^" And his 
answer was that he believed him to be one of the apostles. I 
have reason to fear that there are many religious people's 
children nowadays who are not one whit more advanced than 
Solomon Dowell. 

What zeal and devotion did John Joseph and Abel Hughes 
display with us children, to be sure ; despite the fact that the 
last-named was an old man— old when I first remember him. 



24 RHYS LEWIS. 

John Joseph was quite in his element teaching us to sing such 
refrains as 

'«0, that will be joyful," 
and 

" Never-ending shall the sound be 
Of the glorious golden harp." 

In contrast to this would Abel Hughes be seen soberly and 
seriously listening to our verse-recitals, and commenting upon 
them — as seriously, I say, as if the Day of Judgment were the 
morrow. We, children, liked John Joseph better than we did 
Abel Hughes, because when Abel was not present, John would 
use the tuning fork ; and we were delighted to see him strike 
it on the stove, place it to his ear, shut his eyes, set his neck 
awry to catch the sound, and hum two or three notes before 
we began the singing, although we did not know in the woild 
what high and awful purpose these means were intended to 
accomplish. It would not have been well for John Joseph to 
have gone through all this ceremony had Abel Hughes been 
present. I saw him once attempt it, but Abel promptly 
told him to keep such things at home, they were not in 
keeping with the house of God. What if Abel were alive now ? 
What if he were to hear a man from the Big Sent announcing 
that such and such a tune was in the " Lab mode," and one or 
two dozen people shriekirg each against the other, " Doh, soh, 
doh, soh ? " Of a truth he would say that religion was going 
to the dogs, and I fear that some unsettlement of his senses 
would have resulted. So do circumstances change in less 
than a single generation I 

Abel Hughes was most particular as to beginning and ending 
the Children's Meeting punctually at the appointed time. We 
knew to the minute when he would arrive in chapel. I well 
remember mother praising Will Bryan for calling for me in such 
good time fo; the meeting. Little did she suspect that our early 
departure was made with a view of playing hide and seek in the 
gallery. Will managed somehow or other to find out that Abel 
always began the meeting by his watch, and finished it by the 
chapel clock. One night, all being in their places expecting 
Abel's arrival, Will told us he was going up into the gallery to 



RHYS LEWIS. 



25 



move the clock-hand half an hour forward : and with the worda 
he went. We were in the greatest trepidation lest Abel should 
come in and catch him. Will had hardly reached the clock seat 
and touched the hand, when Abel made his appearance. Will 
dived down on the instant. Our hearts went throbbing pain- 
fully, for Abel Hughes was not a man to be trifled with. 
While Abel was offering up the prayer with which he always 
began a meeting, and had tightly closed his eyes, everyone of 
us availed himself of the opportunity of opening his own, ar.d 
looking up in the direction of the clock seat. We were simply 
astounded at Will's daring. We saw him, after he had moved 
the hand, coolly rest his elbows on the balustrade, and gave a 
wink first at one and then at the other, all rour.d. He next went 
fumbling in his pockets, and taking out a handful of crumbs, 
deliberately dropped them down upon old Abel's head. 
Whether it was that Abel was so absorbed in his devotions, or 
because he wore a velvet skull-cap, and could not consequently 
feel the downpour, I know not, but he did not seem in the least 
to heed the infliction. 

John Joseph happened to be absent that night, and the meet- 
ing therefore was somewhat flat. Very imperfectly did the 
boys repeat their verses— their thoughts were in the chapel loft 
with Will Bryan, whose head kept popping into sight every 
now and then. Each time we caught a glii^ipse of his face it 
wore a grin, which showed the owner to be enjoying himself 
immersely. I verily believe he was the only one of us all whose 
heart was not quaking with fear. Time and again were we re- 
proved by Abel Hughes for our indifferent verse-repeating, and 
for so constantly turning our eyes towards the clock, as if we 
were in a desperate hurry to get away. Little did he know that 
it was not at the clock we were looking, but at the hair on 
Will Bryan's crown. Serious though we contrived to appear, 
Abel Hughes at length grew tired of the eS'ort to direct our 
minds to the lessons. He looked up at the clock, and expressed 
bis great surprise to find how fast the time had flown. At this 
juncture the door opened, and Margaret Ellis, the care 
taker entered, with a sad complaint as to the early coming 
of the children to chapel simply for the sake of play, and of the 
frightful row they kicked up. 



26 RHYS LEWIS. 



Abel asked her who the culprits were. 

"Hugh Bryan's son is the worst of the lot," she replied. 
** He has been more than usually bad to-night." 

"My good woman," returned Abel, *' you, like myself, are 
getting old. "Will Bryan has not been here at all to-night; 
although that is somewhat odd, for he is a faithful attendant as 
a rule." 

" Do you think, Abel Hughes, that I don't know what I am 
talking about ? " asked Margaret, stiffly. " Did I not see him 
with my own eyes, did I not hear him scampering up and down 
the chapel ? " 

"Ehys," said Abel sternly, and looking me straight in the 
face, "did Will Bryan accompany you to the meeting, to- 
night?" 

Spite of myself my eyes wandered up towards the clock seat 
where Will stood shaking a warning fist at me. I would never 
have dared to open my lips after that, and luckily there was no 
need to, for caretaker Margaret caught sight of Will's head as 
it ducked down into his hiding place. 

" Abel Hughes," she cried, " He's in the clock pew now; I 
saw him this very minute." 

We fairly trembled with fear as Abel, backing himself against 
the Big Seat, took a look up at the gallery. For the life of him, 
however, he could not see Will. 

" Bring that bad boy down, Abel Hughes. He is there for 
certain," said Margaret. 

Abel Hughes, agitated to the very soul, made for the gallery. 
My heart got into my throat as I watched him approach the clock 
pew. Before he could reach the spot, however, Will sprang 
into the next pew, and the next, and thus springing reached the 
top of the stairs, down which he went, it seemed to me, at a 
single bound, nearlj'' upsetting Margaret, who tried to intercept 
him at the bottom. Will was well on his way home before 
Abel, poor old man, could look around. Whilst caretaker 
Margaret was expressing pretty freely her opinion of the boy's 
character, our revered old teacher was doing his best to regain 
his self-control. So shocked, however, was he that he dismissed 
us without prayer. All he could do was to enjoin us to go home 
quietly, like good children, and not to follow the example of 



RHYS LEWIS. 27 

William Bryan. Abel proceeded at once to complain to Hugh 
Bryan of the unseemly conduct of his son, and next morning I 
heard the latter say he never got such a licking in all his life, as 
the one his father gave him over night. 

The foregoing episode is so simple and so childish in its charac- 
ter, as not to be worth mentioning except to one's self. Aud yet I 
remember a time when I used to look upon the occurrences of that 
nijrht with as much weighty concern and seriousness as ever 
"Wellington did upon Waterloo. It was a great night in my 
young life. In my foolish simplicity I admired above every- 
thing Will Bryan's pluck and daring. I honestly believed the 
world did not contain his fellow. At this time I cannot help 
perceiving in Will's conduct on that occasion the seed of what 
has subsequently developed into a great tree. 

Pity, Will, pity thou didst not give ear to the serious counsel 
of Abel Hughes and John Joseph at the Children's Society. 
Hadst thou done so, thou would'st have been very differently 
situated to-day. Eememberest thou, from thy present place, 
how Abel used to advise us to keep from even the appearance of 
evil, and show us the peril of walking in the ways of the un- 
godly. Dost remember, also, how earnestly he prayed for us, 
and committed us to the care of Him whom he had found a 
Faithful Guide and Mighty Saviour ? If thou dost remember 
it— and I have but little doubt on the subject — then thy re- 
flections, methiuks, can be none of the sweetest. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE IKISHMAN. 

My experience, probably, is not different to that of other people 
who endeavour to trace back the beginnings of things. How 
difficult it is to lay hold of the beginning of anything iu my 
own history! For instance, when did I first learn that there 
was a closer tie between me and my mother than between me 
and some other woman ? When did the idea of a God first form 
itself in my mind ? When did I come to learn that I was a 
separate being ? When did the notion of personal responsibility, 



28 RHYS LEWIS. 



of sin and of a future world, become part of my conscionsnoss ? 
&c. In the effort to hark back upon a particular point as the 
beginning of these and similar notions, I find that I have 
been mistaken , that the goal is farther off than ever ; and 
following it up, I at last lose it in the TJn-beginnable. I do 
not know how to account for this. Does the memory not 
register the beginning of things in the mind ? Must the begin- 
ning have happened for a particular space of time before the 
memory can receive any impression from it ? Or, are the 
beginnings and the memory of them contemporaneous ? Has 
every idea a man may happen to be possessed of been existent 
in the soul since its creation, only in a state of torpor from 
which circumstances awaken it; or is it some adaptability 
that the soul possesses for receiving impressions which by 
constant accretion become deepened until they at length form 
themselves into ideas? 

At the time I am endeavouring to revert to, I think I must 
have been about six years old, and my brother Bob about 
eighteen. Bob, in my estimation, was a great strong man ; it 
being sufficient proof to me that he was able to carry me upon 
his back without the least trouble. He was a collier ; and no 
one ever admired a brother more than I did mine when I saw 
him coming home, clogs on feet, and lamp in hand, with a face 
as black as the chimney. Up to that period I fancy I did not 
know how mother. Bob and myself obtained our livelihood. 
I then, or very shortly afterwards, came to understand that 
none of the good things of this world could be got without 
money — a truth which, to my sorrow, I have proved a thousand 
times since. The means, possibly, by which I got the know- 
ledge were my constant requests to my mother for this thing 
and for that, and her reply that she had not the money where- 
with to buy it. An occasion of great interest to us was that on 
which Bob brought home his wages. We would all three sit 
about the fire : Bob emptying his pocket into mother's apron, 
ap.d she reckoning the money many times over. To me 
the sum had so large a sound, that I wholly failed to under- 
stand how mother could say she was without money. I noticed 
that in the counting she sometimes looked pleased, at other 
times serious, at all times thoughtful. I surmised she must be 



RHYS LEWIS. 



29 



wondering to find herself in possession of so much wealth. 
Poor innocent ! Had I but known it, she was simply planning 
and puzzling her head how to lay out the few shillings in her 
apron to the best advantage, how to be able to pay everybody 
his due. The amount of Bob's earnings borne in mind, what 
a splendid Chancellor of the Exchequer must my old mother 
have been ! She and Bob, when the counting was over, would 
indulge in a lot of confidential talk, of which all I could make 
out were the words "rent" and "shop." I came to look 
forward to pay day with eagerness; because my mother, after 
receiving the money, would go to the shop for food ; and so, for 
one day at any rate, we had enough to eat. How few are they, 
as is best, who have experienced the exceeding pleasure of 
having enough to eat ! I am thinking none can know that 
pleasure save those who, like myself, can tell what it is to have 
gone short of food. Short, did I say ? Yes, without any ! 
But to that I shall have to refer again. 

As I have already intimated. Will Bryan and I were great 
friends, and I cannot help connecting with him the creation or 
the stirring up of thoughts and ideas within my soul. Particu- 
larly do I remember how I used to envy Will Bryan. His 
father kept a large shop (so I thought it), in which there was an 
abundance of everything. Will had potatoes and meat every 
■day for dinner ; I had browes* only. Will frequently had new 
clothes ; for me there were ever and always my brother Bob's 
old ones re-made by mother. Will got a penny every Saturday 
to spend ; I never saw the colour of one save when Bob was 
emptying his pocket into mother's apron. But what made me 
look upon Will as the happiest lad on earth, was the fact that he 
owned a real live little mule. I did not know of anything in 
the whole wide world I so much wished to possess as a little 
mule like Will's. And I was not the only one who envied Will his 
happy lot ; the feeling was common amongst those of the same 
age as myseK. Will himself was not unconscious of his 
superiority to us all. If any of us happened to offend him, 
the heaviest punishment he could possibly inflict was to forbid 
us to come anywhere near his mule ; this, as a rule, being quite 
sufficient to bring us repentant to his feet. In virtue of this 
little mule. Will tyrannised over us most unm9rcifully. so much 

* Bread and hot water, with a little butter or dripping added. 



RHYS LEWIS. 



80 (I remember the occasion well), that at one of our gatheriiigs 
when somebody happened to stray from the subject, he gave 
orders that nobody, without his permission, was to say a single 
word of any kind that did not concern the mule. And there 
was nothing left us but to submit in silence. Now I think of 
it, what a number of people, of every age and station, have I 
come in contact with who make capital out of their little mules ! 

I should never have mentioned this matter, had it not been 
that Will Bryan's little mule was the means of rousing or of 
creating an inquiry in my soul. I remember on one occasion 
thinking over and envying the happier lot and superior ad- 
vantages enjoyed by Will, and trying to account for the 
difference, the conclusion I came to being this— that Will had a 
father, whilst I had none. Why was I without a father ? 
When I put the question to my mother, she became agitated, 
and the tears sprang into her eyes, but instead of saying a word 
in reply, she tried to draw my attention to something else. I, 
however, pressed the question, and asked moreover, whether my 
father were dead ? 

"Yes," she anwered, *' your father, poor, child, is dead— in 
sin and transgression." 

Mother frequently used a Scriptural simile. I did not under- 
stand this one, but I took her to mean that my father had been 
put down the " black hole," as I at that time called the grave. 
The reflection made me very sad for a while, but the sadness 
speedily passed away. 

Some time after this — I cannot be particular to a month or two 
— I remember mother had been to the shop, because it was pay 
night, and we had just finished a good supper. All three were 
gathered round the fire, I, at any rate, feeling exceedingly com- 
fortable, whatever might have been the case with mother and Bob. 
Mother always permitted me to remain up an hour or two later 
on nights when Bob received his pay. I cannot convey in words 
the mighty satisfaction and happiness this staying up late 
aflTorded me. Thinking what very little things were those which 
brought me so much happiness in my boyhood, I am grieved to 
the heart to find that it was not possible to remain a boy for 
ever. We three sat by the fire, I say ; it was winter, and the 
night was cold and stormy. 1 occupied my own little stool 



RHYS LEWIS. 31 



listening to the wind roaring in the chimuey and whistling 
through the keyhole. I felt very sleepy, but made desperate 
efforts not to close my eyes lest mother should send me to bed, 
and my privilege of remaining up late on the following pay 
night be thereby forfeited. I was just on the point of surrender 
when I heard some one knock at the door. I became wide 
awake at once. Before time had been given to open, there came 
in a repulsive looking fellow, who shut the door and walked 
straight to the fire without saying a word. Directly I saw him, 
I made up my mind that he was a bad man. He was ragged 
and dirty, and his clothes filled the house with a disagreeable 
odour. Even though I heard him speak Welsh I felt certain he 
was an Irishman. I used to think that all the dirty, ragged ones 
must be Irish. He had no sooner made his appearance than 
my brother Bob, white in the face and trembling in every limb, 
jumped to his feet. I knew from Bob's attitude that he wanted 
to collar the intruder, and pitch him out— a task he could easily 
Lave accomplished, the man bein«- puny and weak, while Bob 
was well-built, supple, and strong. Mother discerning Bobs 
intention, tremulously begged him to refrain. 

I thought I had never seen such another ugly dirty lout 
as this stranger, and I marvelled at his impudence in coming 
thus into our house. Never had I known mother so profoundly 
agitated, and making such effoits at self-control, uttering the 
while something to this effect : ' ' James, I have told you many 
times you are not to come here. I never wish to see you again." 

The stranger pretended not to hear her. He tried instead, 
by tender words, to make friends with me, whom he addressed 
by my own name. I wondered greatly how he knew it, and 
recoiled from him as from a serpent. At length he took hold 
of me and tried to put me on his knee. Fairly driven wild, I 
struck him my hardest with my little fist right in the face, Bob, 
at the same time, dragging me from his clutches. Mother 
asked him once more to leave ; but he refused to go, whereupon 
Bob again jumped to his feet to pitch him out, and was again 
prevented by my mother. I grew perfectly savage at her 
interference. The Irishman, as I called him, asked for food, 
which, to my surprise, my mother placed before him. He ate 
at such an unconscionable rate, that I at one time thought he 



32 RHYS LEWIS. 



would never give over. I begrudged him every bit lie put into bis 
mouth, and I knew my brother Bob did the same, because I sat 
upon his knee, and felt his limbs to be in a constant tremble of 
anger. 

When, at last, he had done eating, the Irishman coolly drew 
up to the fire, just as if he meant to settle down for the night. 
Mother begged him once more to go away, but this, he said, 
he would not do, unless she gave him money. To my utter 
astonishment, I saw her hand him some. Bob flew into a 
passion, and I heard him angriiy telling mother she was mad. 
He wouldn't go into the mine, he declared, to toil and sweat, if 
his hard earnings were to be given to a drunken thieving scamp 
in this fashion. I too, was highly incensed at the idea that 
mother had given the Irishman more money than would have 
sufficed to buy me a little live mule like Will Bryan's. Young as 
I was, I sympathised greatly with her, the impression being 
left upon my mind that the stranger had some secret influence 
over her, and that she could not help herself in what she had 
done. Bob's bad temper had not the slighest effect upon the 
Irishman, who, after he got the money, seemed more than 
ever determined to stay the night. He lit his pipe, and began 
undoing his boot laces. 

Bob, losing all patience at the sight, sprang to his feet, 
opened wide the door, took the Irishman by the nape of the 
neck, flung him as if he were so much carrion, out into the 
street, and barred the door. All this took only a quarter of a 
minute to do. I was clapping my hands with joy, when seeing my 
mother had swooned, and was dying, as I thought, I went nearly 
"wild with grief. Bob having sprinkled water over her face, she 
came to herself, and began to cry, Bob and I mingling our tears 
with hers for a while. Drying her eyes she held confidential 
converse with Bob, of which I could very well make out that 
the subject was the Irishman, whom they alluded to as "He." 
Spite of earnest question and inquiry, directed both to Bob and 
mother, I entirely failed to find out who the stranger was. All 
the answer I got was, that he was a bad man, and that I must 
never speak of him to anybody. 

Well would it have been for me had I acquired no better 
knowledge of him subsequently. Providence, however, ordained 



RBYS LEWIS. 3 J 



it otherwise. Is it not this " Irishman " who has been the bane 
of my existence ? Is it not he who has dropped wormwood into 
ray sweetest cup ? How different would my history have been 
but for him I When my friends have thought me blessed and 
happv, he, like some spirit of evil, has blighted my every enjoy- 
ment, and sat upon me like a nightmare when I should have 
been at rest. 



CHAPTER YII. 

THE TWO SCHOOLS. 

I HAVE thought that every man has formed some opinion, how- 
ever true or false, concerninghimself — thatis to say, his personal 
appearance, his abilities, physical and mental, and his social 
status. To put it in another form, every man has some idea of 
his own importance ; although it is not at all times that he will 
communicate this idea to others. As a rule he keeps such 
matters to himself. And there are, doubtless, sufficient 
grounds for his conduct. It stands to reason that the man him- 
self knows himself best, and that it is he who is the best fitted to 
form a correct judgment on the matter. If he is a man of parts, 
he dare not say so for fear of lowering himself in the estimation 
of others, and of appearing smaller to their minds than to his 
own. It is only one in a million who has the assurance, like 
the Apostle Paul, fearlessly to announce his superiority over 
others, although the proportion of those who believe in their 
own superiority is much greater. So brightly doth the beauty of 
humility shine before men, that even honesty is obliged to veil 
its eyes in her presence. How great must He have been who 
could make such revelations, set up such claims for Himself 
without tarnish either to His meekness or His modesty. 

It is commonly supposed that greatness and humility should 
go together; yet there is room to think that what men call 
humility is very often but another form of wisdom, or rather 

strategy. Picture to yourself Dr. in midst of the As- 

Bociation, addi'essing his hearers after this style:—" Well, my 




34 RHYS LEI VIS. 



dear brethren, you know I am greater than you all, that I can 
write a tract or compose a sermon better than any of you. In 
a word, you know, that for culture and natural ability, I am as 
good as a dozen of some of you, and better than any two of your 
best." What would the brethren say ? Would they not stare at 
each other, and would their looks not convey a plain hint that 
tbe speaker was going off his head ? And yet, who knows better 
than the speaker himself that that which I have just put into 
his mouth is true in every word, although he wouM not take 
the world for saying so. The really great man feels he can 
leave it to others to form an estimate of him without any 
guidance of his own, the probability being that they will rate 
him only too highly, and he prefers that they should err in this 
direction than in any other. In neither great nor small men is 
there too much readiness to set others right who evince a 
tendency to value them at more than their proper worth. 

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that the con- 
ciousness of inferiority is an uncomfortable one ; and this is 
possibly the reason that the small man, on every occasion, en- 
deavours to show all of himself there is to be seen, and that to the 
best advantage. This tendency is observable in other animals 
besides man. The other day I saw two cocks upon a dunghill — 
a great Cochin China, long-shanked and high-crested, and a pert 
little baut^iui. The one looked iistless and easy-going; 
but as for the other, how he thrust out his breast, and standing 
a-tiptoe, held head and tail so high that they nearly touched 
each other. In clear note he crowed and crowed again, 
attempting, it struck mo, to pick a quarrel with the Cochin, 
round whom he circled, saying, after his own fashion : *' Don't 
you see my breast and tail ? You haven't a tail like this one." 
Cochin, for a while, pretended not to notice him, but at last he 
too crowed, although with note so much like a groan that I 
fancied he must be commiserating the dandy upon his diminu- 
tiveness. I do not know whether it is the Cochin and the Bantam 
who imitate men, or it is the latter who imitate the former ; but 
there is certainly some resemblance between them. This, how- 
ever, is what I was going to ask, "Ehys, what measure hast 
thou taken of thyself i-^ There is no one here to listen, so thou 
can'st answer honestlv and without much danger of being 



RHYS LEWIS. 35 



thought either conceited or hypocritical. Thou art a preacher, 
the pastor of a flock, thou rhymest occasionallv, and contri- 
butest at times to the periodicals. What station dost thou 
occupy in thine own eyes ?" Well, putting my foot upon the 
neck of pride, I shall answer honestly, without deceiving myself, 
there being nobody about to hear. 

He who knows everything knows that in those matters I 
oupht and deserve to be great, namely, religion and the proof 
of things spiritual, I am.painfuUy small. And the more I have 
to do with things divine and eternal, all the more do I feel the 
grip of earth upon me, all the heavier do the weights become 
which hold me down. But that the promises of Holy Writ were 
so strong and emphatic concerning the power and grace of the 
Saviour. I would long since have stink into despair under the 
load of a depraved heart and a guilty conscience. My prayer, 
from the depth of that heart, is that He may strengthen me in 
the faith. 

With regard to my personal appearance, I know there is 
nothing attractive aboufit, and I have often wondered at the re- 
flection that some one. at some time, had a tender regard for 
me, as I shall have occasion to refer to later on. I have many 
times envied that charm of manner possessed by ** Glan Alun," 
which made everybody for2:et his person. Dear man I I prefer 
thee to a hundred of these comely and smart, but soulless ones. 
At the same time I try to believe there is nothing repulsive in 
my appearance. Can it be that I am mistaken ? Be it as it 
may, I should be more than pleased were I Thomas John, * and 
were it possible to possess his remarkable soul. After ail, 
a fine and commanding presence is a great thing in a preacher, 
and he who climbs the pulpit without one is always at a dis- 
count. 

In the matter of natural tendencies— well, yes, there is no 
one here to listen — I think I excel some of my brethren. And 
they know it or, at any rate, ought to. I would not for the 
world tell this to anybody, and if anybody were to say it to me, 
it is certain I should protest ; and that, maybe, is reckoned for 
humility in me. 

As to the amount of knowledge I possess, it is neither hei-e 
nor there. Indeed, there are in the church here mere 

* Thomas John, Kilgerran, a celebrated Welsh preacher. 



Z6 RHYS LEWIS. 



youngsters, who, in some directions, know a good deal more than 
I do ; and I am sore put to it very often to prevent them from 
understanding as much. Take geography for instance, I know 
next to nothing of that valuable science ; and when some of 
these same youngsters happen to question me upon the subject, 
I am forced to tax my ingenuity to the utmost in order to con- 
ceal mj' ignorance. It would never do to let them know how 
ignorant I, a church minister, really am, because, the boys, 
poor things, believe I know everything. 1 have various ways 
of getting out of difficulties of this kind. When a question is 
asked me which I do not know how to answer, I invariably direct 
it to a lad in the class whom I think able to do it for 
me, and if I fancy he has answered correctly, I bestow upon 
him a nod of commendation^. But if a question be asked which 
neither I nor any one else in the class can answer, then I 
endeavour to impress upon the minds of my scholars the im- 
portance of everyone's reading and investigating for himself, 
the knowledge thereby acquired being of much greater value to 
them than any they would get by my answering the question 
off-hand. I add that the question will be borne in mini until 
the following meeting, when I shall expect every one of them 
to be able to answer it. Meanwhile I hunt up the information 
for myself. Of course no one knows all this, and the wise 
would not blame me even if they did know it, because were I 
to admit my ignorance before the boys, it would detract greatly 
from my pastoral usefulness. 

What occasioned the writing of so long a preface to the 
present chapter was my thought of the misfortune it is, for a 
preacher more particularly, to be deprived of the advantages of 
education in one's early youth. He is constantly stumbling 
against something he ought to have learned in school when a 
boy, and he can never aspire to the position and the usefulness 
of those who have received a thorough elementary training in 
their childhood. When I was a boy there were only two day 
schools in the town of my birth. One was kept by a gentleman 
of the name of Smith, whom I remember very well. Mr. Smith 
was the great oracle of the town. He was looked up to by some 
j)eople with an admiration bordering almost upon worship. He 
was believed to be proficient in at least seven languages, and 



RHYS LEWIS. 37 



he was said to utter words which no one else could understand. I 
heard m} mother declare that Mr. Smith and Die Aberdaroa 
were the two greatest scholars the world had ever seen. "What- 
ever my opinion may, by this time, be with reference to the 
accuracy of my mother's judgment, I know that I implicitly 
believed in it then. I would pull up in the street when Mr. 
Smith passed by, and look after him with an indescribable awe. 
He was a tall, thin, grey-headed personage, wearing black 
clothes and spectacles. I think he was the only one in the town 
at that time who allowed his moustache to grow. Mr. 
Smith's was looked upon as a very superior sort of institution, 
and none ever thought of sending their children there save the 
gentry and the well-to-do. I remember associating some great 
mystery with the green bags in which his scholars used to carry 
their books. 

I have reason to believe that mother would never have 
thought of sending me to school to Mr. Smith, even had her 
circumstances permitted it, because she considered him ir- 
religious. She had a variety of reasons for forming this opinion 
of him. For one thing, he went to the Llan on the Sunday 
instead of " professing religion ; " or, m other words, he fre- 
quented the Church of England instead of going to chapel. 
The " English Church " and " Eeligion " were two words very 
far removed from each other in my mother's vocabulary. Then 
again there was his habit of taking a stroll on Sunday afternoons 
instead of remaining at home pondering over the Word and the 
Doctrine. Moreover, she had heard from -aw old maid-servant 
of Mr. Smith's that he had in his hou.se a ' ' Devil-raising Book," 
which he was constantly reading *' after dark." There could be 
no doubt of the correctness of this story, because one night Mr. 
Smith left the book open upon the table, wheio tlie girl saw it 
next morning. Thoughtlessly she drew near and tried to 
read it, but not one syllable could she make out beyond the 
single word "Satan," and before she had visited the room a 
second time the book had disappeared. It happened that the 
girl did not know a word of English. As additional proof, 
mother recollected very well that Mr. Smith wns in Parson 
Brown's company when the latter visited Ty'nllidiart to lay the 
spirit there, and shut it down in his tobacco box. Hereupon 



38 KHYS LEWIS. 



my mother came to this conclusion :— that if Mr. Smith, \\ho 
was not a parson, was able to help Mr. Brown, who was a 
parson, in the work of laying spirits, he could not be any- 
stranger to the work of raising them either. But mother's 
principal reason for believing Mr. Smith to be irreligious was, 
unquestionably, the fact of his wearing a moustache. Nobody 
could persuade her, she declared, that the man who had proved 
the great things of religion could possibly allow the hair to grow 
upon his upper lip. She had never seen any one deserving the 
name of Christian who wore a moustache. What would Mr. 
Elias and Mr. Rees,* have taken for wearing mouscachios ? A 
short whisker near the ear was a different thing entirely. As I 
have said, these considerations, even could my mother have 
afforded to send me, proved an unsurmountable obstacle to my 
going to school to Mr. Smith. And besides, my mother did not 
believe in higher education. I heard her say, more than once, 
that she never knew good to come of over- educating children, 
and that too much of this sort of thing had led many a man to 
the gallows. *' As to the children of the poor," she would re- 
mark, " if they are eble to read their Bible, and know the way 
into the Life eternal, that is quite enough for them." 

The other school was kept by one Robert Davies, or, as he 
was commonly called, "Robin the Soldier,"— a well-set, fleshy 
man, but somewhat advanced in years, who had spent the 
prime of life in the British Army, where he distinguished him- 
self as a brave, intrepid warrior. He returned to his native 
village minus his right leg, which he had left behind him in 
Belgium, a pledge of his zeal and fidelity in his country's cause, 
whilst campaigning against *' Bony." Robert supplied this de- 
ficiency by means of a wooden leg, of foreign growth but his 
own shaping, and tipped with an iron ferrule. Upon his de- 
parture from the army the Government then in power deemed it 
incumbent upon them to endow him with a pension of sixpence a 
day for the rest of his life, in recognition of his valuable services 
as a soldier, and as a substantial recompense for the loss of his 
limb ; for which reasons Robert used to address his wooden leg 
as " Old Sixpenny." For some weeks after his return from the 
army, he used to be regularly asked out by old friends to supper 
for the sake of hearing him give an account of his battles, and 



Two famous preachers. 



FHYS LEWIS. 



all h-^ had seen and heard abroad. Eobert, howeyer, speedily- 
got to the end of his tether, and his stories <rradualh' grew to 
be a good deal staler than his appetite, so that at last the only 
place they were tolerated was the taproom of the Cross Foxes, 
to which Eobert became a constant visitor. 

The income from the wooden leg being barely sufficient to 
meet the weekly calls of the Cross Foxes, our old Soldier 
speedily found himself in straightened circumstances. But 
relief was not long in coming. Providence found him an 
opening as toll-gate keeper, in which situation, for a season, he 
fared sumptuously every day. He grew sleek-looking, and self- 
satisfied, and doubtless would have continued to do so, had not 
the turnpike authorities happened to discover that it was not 
Eobert who kept the gate, but that it was the gate which kept 
him. In solemn conclave they came to the conclusion that this 
was not the original intention of the trust, some of them 
happening to be self-willed and hard-hearted, going the length 
even of insisting that the tolls should be restored to their 
intended use ; and Eobert was obliged to leave in consequence. 

Parson Brown was wondrously kind and charitable towards all 
his parishioners, especially the orthodox. And inasmuch as 
the old soldier was one of the " dearly beloved brethi-en," and a 
devout man — that is to say, one who went to church every 
Sunday morning, to bed every Sunday afternoon, and to the 
Cross Foxes every Sunday night, — Mr. Brown took an especial 
interest in his welfare, and was the very first to suggest to him 
the advisability of setting up school. 

"Eobbit," said Parson Brown to him in broken Welsh — so I 
heard mother tell the story — " Eobbit, you scholar, you able to 
read and write and say catechism— you start school in old empty 
office there— me help you— many children without learning 
hereabouts. Eobbit; you charge penny week, make lot coin, 
live comfortable, I do my best to you. You. Eobbit, have been 
fight for the country, me fight for you now." 

Fairplay for Mr. Brown, he had a warm heart, and he never 
rested until he had set Eobert on his feet, or rather on his foot, 
in this matter of starting a day school. 

Soldier Eobin's school was an old established institution before 
I got of age to be able to go to it. How my mother came to 



40 RHYS LEWIS. 

send me there my memory is not suJ9Bciently alert to furnish 
the details. Sure I am that no burning desire of mine towards 
education gave tlie inducement. I am pretty positive, also, 
that it was not because mother was satisfied of Robert's 
religiosity. The likeliest reason I can think of at the moment 
is that Mr. Brown had used his influence with mother in the 
matter. Although believing Mr. Brown had never proved 
"the great things," she entertained, I know, a very high 
opinion of him os a philanthropist and neighbour. The only 
thing which reconciled me to the notion of going to school \ras 
the fact that Will Bryan was already a member of that valued 
institution. I remember very well a consciousness that I was 
doing a great work by going to school, and that I deserved 
some sort of tribute for my self denial. Now I have observed, 
in reading biography, that seldom incommemorate in the life- 
history of the author is the day upon which he first went to 
school. That day is fresh in my memory, and I recall it and 
its occurrences, not as my predecessors have done, for other 
people's diversion, but for my own, who am the only one, pro- 
bably, wiio can find diversion therein. Peihaps it will be 
better if I take another chapter in which to relate that day's 
doiners. 



CHArTEi: VIII. 



UNDER INSTRUCTION. 



Should this history happen to fall into the hands of any of my 
friends when my head will have been laid low, and should they go 
to the trouble of reading it, I know they will wou;:er why I have 
lingered so long over matters that are trivial and unimportant. 
Here have I devoted seven chapters to the brief period com- 
posed between my birth and the day I first went to school. 
Had I sent this to one of the periodicals the editor would, 
doubtless, have long since lost patience and would have urged 
me to move a little faster, or else to knock the history on the 
head. It is here the advantage comes of writing for one's own 
diversion, and not for that of the public. The man who goes 



RHYS LEWIS. 41 



Rn errand walks straight ahead, along the nearest road, at the 
rute, say, of four miles an hour by his watch. But he who takes 
to strolling about the old country of his birth is blind to mile- 
stones ; he climbs over hedges, wanders about the bushes, goes 
bird-nesting, gathers nuts and blackberries, sits upon the moss- 
banks, or lolls by the riverside, all oblivious of the fact that he 
has such a thing as a watch in his pocket. Give me the latter. 
What a liberty :s mine ! I have no one to call me to account ior 
writing a preface to every chapter, if I choose ; there is no 
necessity for re-casting sentences which may happen to vq?A a 
little stiff and rugged, nor for asking myself what will the reader 
say of this thing or of that. 

I was thinking, only to-night, of all nights in the year, of 
David Davis, our elder here. A God-fearing man, and an 
oddity, one of the faithful of the old school who would not de- 
viate from the rules of the fathers to the extent even of brushing 
his hair back from his forehead. I have a ^reat respect for his 
sense and for his prejudices. I know David Davis has a high 
opinion of me, and it may be that is the reason I think so 
highly of him. Indeed, when I come to consider it, I find that 
this is the rule by which I take my measure of the brethren 
generally. If I get to krow that such and such an one 
happens to think highly of me, I somehow, despite myself, 
come to the conclusion that there must be something in that 
man. And so the contrary. I remember the time when I 
thought rather highly of the brother who keeps the Post Office; 
but when I came to understand that he was not of the same 
miud with regard to myself, he at once fell in my estimation, 
and ever since I can only think of him as one with a serious 
failing, although I cannot lay my finger upon that failing. 
TVhat if David Davis knew me to-night to be doing any- 
thing so childish as writing the history of the day I first 
went to school! I fear me I should go down in his eyes. 
Luckily he knows nothing about it. I often ir.-A myself doing 
some things and refraining from doing others, all for the sake of 
David Davis. In conversation with him, I have frequently 
been tempted to indulge in a joke, but out of respect for the old 
muu I have refrained. A while ago I had a great longing to let 
the hair grow upon my upper lip ; but I instantly remembered 



42 RHYS LEWIS. 



David Davis— the thing would be impossible without giving 
him offence, and I have regularly shaved as a consequence. It 
is because David Davis knows not what I do that, for my own 
diversion, I wish to give a detailed account, concealing nothing, 
of the day I first went to school. 

It was a Monday and winter. "Will Bryan called for me 
betimes, and was particularly enjoined by my mother to take 
care of me. Will hinted on the way that it was not at all 
unlikely I should have to fight one or two of my school 
fellows. It was not a pleasant thing to do, he knew, but such 
was the custom always with a new scholar. He, however, 
would take care to be at my back to see I got fairplay. The 
hint was anything but a consoling one, chiefly because I was 
conscious that my talents did not lie in that direction, and also 
because I perceived the possibility of the occurrence, did it take 
place, coming to my mother's ears at home, and to those of Abel 
Hughes at the Children's Society. I was ashamed to admit 
as much to Will Bryan, and so I told him I should act 
according to his instructions ; indeed I would not for anything 
have crossed hinr>, he stood so high in my estimation. 

The "Office" in which the old soldier kept school was a 
long, narrow structure, round which ran a rough and crooked 
bench connected with a desk which leaned against the wall. I 
noticed, among one of the first things, that of this desk there was 
hardly a square inch on which the knife had not carved some 
kind of pictorial design, figure, or name. At the other end, 
close to the fire, stood the master's desk, through the base of 
which there was a good sized hole, made (I afterwards found), 
for the convenience of the master's wooden leg, which he thrust 
through whenever he sat down. Upon my entrance, I saw 
what to me was a new and wondrous sight. Some of the boys 
were mounted on the desk, some on other boys' backs, " play- 
ing horses," and galloping about the room, while others were 
heaped on the floor, wriggling about like eels in the mud. 
One lad who was lame, and carried a crutch, was mimicking 
the master, at whose desk he sat with the crutch thrust through 
the hole in imitation of the wooden leg, and yelling, all to no 
purpose, for silence. The scene changed every minute ; every- 
body shouted at the top of his voice with the exception of one 



J^.HYS LEWIS. 



boy, who standing on the desk near the window, divided bis 
attention between the play and the direction from which they 
expected tho appearance of the master. A curious feeling 
came over me. I thought I had come amongst a lot of very 
wicked children, and if mother had known the sort of beings they 
were, I should never be sent there again. On the other hand, 
I fancied this was the best place for fun I had ever seen. The 
dominant feeling, however, was one of strangeness and a pain- 
ful shyness, now that Will had left me to myself and eagerly 
joined in the play. While thus affected, I saw the lad who was 
on the look-out place two fingers to his mouth, and give a 
clearly souiide>i whistle. In a twinkling every boy. panting 
and blowing, was in his proper place. I knew very well I musr 
be looking foolish enough, standing like a statue all alone near 
the door when the Soldier came in. He passed me by without 
taking upon him that he had seen me. He seemed agitated, 
and looked fiercely about him. I understood directly that the 
sentinel had not been quick enough in giving the signal, and 
that the mister had heard the deafening disturbance. He 
walked up to his desk, and drew forth a long stout cane. Each 
lad shrugged a preparatory shoulder while the old Soldier went 
the round of the school, caning all, cruelly and indiscriminately. 
I was the only one who escaped even a taste, and I was the only 
one who burst out crying, the chastisement having terrified me. 
The other boys appeared too well-used to the proceeding to 
mind it. The last of them having received his allowance, the 
master returned to his desk, put up his hands and said, " Let 
us pray," after which he slowly repeated his Paternoster, the 
boys following. I subsequently learned that some of the wicked 
ones, in the midst of the general clatter, had uttered words very 
different from any to be found in the Prayer, thereby eliciting 
the low laughter of those who were within hearing. 

Prayer ended, the old Soldier in a voice of command, cried, 
"Eivets, my boys," a synonym used every Monday morning 
for " Pass up with your pence." The lad who had come away 
without the customary copper had to hold out his hand and 
receive thereon the tingling imprint of the cane, which sent him 
dancing back to his seat, squeezing his fingers between his knees, 
or under his armpit, or shoving them into his mouth, or 



44 RHYS LEWIS. 



shaking them as if lie had but just drawn them out of the fire. 
This was the general result which a slap with the cane produced, 
but more especially if there had been no opportunity for spitting 
upon the palm, and placing two hairs crosswise thereon. In 
passing, I may mention that the boys had an unswerving belief in 
the spittle and crossed hairs as a charm against the smart. My 
own opinion, after many trials, is that there is not much good 
in the practice. It was not often a lad cried after one slap on 
the hand ; but if be got two slaps or three he was entitled, by 
common consent, to set up a howl without danger of being con- 
sidered a coward. 1 invariably cried after one slap. I was a 
noted crier, and could not help it. 

But to return ; after Will Bryan had taken me to the master, 
and the latter had entered my name in the book, and received 
my penny— which I remember well to have been quite hot from 
the tight clutch I had kept, lest I should lose it— I was requested 
to go to my seat, where I should be told directly what my task 
would be. I had the privilege of sitting between Will Bryan 
and a boy named Jack Beck. 

The latter, without any beating about the bush, asked me 
had I a ha'penny. 

I replied I hadn't. 

Could I tell when I should get one ? He knew a shop where 
there were heaps of things to be had for a ha'penny. He knew 
the shop wife, and I would get almost as much again for my 
money if he were with me. 

Will Bryan told him to shut up, or he would repent it, adding 
a broad hint that if he didn't I would be sure to give bim a 
thrashing. Little did I think at the time that Will was such a 
cunning young rascal. 

Beck observed that to thrash him was something more than I 
could do. 

Will asked me if I was afraid of Beck ? 

Although feeling quite otherwise, I replied boldly that I was 
not. 

"Yery well," rejoined Will, and before five minutes were 
over, the news had been whispered into every ear in the school 
that a fight was to come off between Ehys Lewis and John Beck. 

My conscience, a tender one, grew troubled at the mere 



RHYS LEWIS. 45 



thought of such an occurrence, but it would never have done to 
tell that to Will, who kept pouring into my ear a number 
of directions proper to be observed by way of preparation 
for so important an occasion. I had been taught by my mother 
at home, and by Abel Hughes at the Children's Society, 
that fighting was a great sin ; and my conscience was afire at 
the notion of doing battle with a boy who had never said a scurvy 
word to me, and towards whom I had no sort of enmity. I 
tried to comfort myself with the reflection that if the affair came 
to mothf^r's ears, she might look upon it a little more leniently 
from the fact that my opponent was a Churchman, for I knew 
she entertained no very high opinion of Church people. I 
tj-usted, therefore, she would consider the thing as a sort of 
accidental collision between Church and Chapel. 

For about an hour it did not appear to me that there was any 
work going on in the school. The old Soldier, during the 
greater part of the time, had his head down, occupied either in 
reading or in writing, while the boys, although their books were 
open before them, kept up an incessant murmur. I knew 
perfectly well it was I and John Beck who were the subjects of 
conversation. Did the talk become a little loud, the master, at 
the top of his voice, would about "Silence!" and for a few 
minutes silence would ensue. At a quarter to eleven o'clock, 
the word was given us to go to play, whereupon all jumped 
to their feet and rushed out like a drove of sheep through 
a gap. My heart beat fast at the thought of what was about to 
take place. I hardly knew where I was before I found myself 
in the yard standing up to John Beck. I did my best under the 
circumstances, although I did not know how I got on, my eyes 
being most of the time closed, not from my antagonist's blows, 
but from fear. For all that the combat did not last long, and 
I rejoiced greatly when I found that everything was over and 
that I was the victor. I believe to this day that I was helped 
by Will Bryan. I don't know whether I felt the prouder that 
the fight was over, or that I had come out a conqueror and 
whole-skinned, when the authoritative voice of the Soldier, 
calling us into school, struck terror to my heart. It was clear 
that he had seen the whole transaction. I heard several of the 
bovB muttering in concert that it was the son of the woman who 



46 RHYS LEWIS. 

cleaned the Church, cicknamed the " Skulk," who had carried 
the news to master, and the threats wore legion that were 
launched at his head. On the return to school Ehys Lewis and 
John Beck were called up to the desk to give an account of 
their stewardship. It was a fearful moment, but Will Bryan 
rose equal to the occasion. He came up to the desk, unasked, 
to give testimony, and declared unflinchingly that it was Beck 
who had challenged me and struck me first. This was empha- 
tically denied by Beck. Another witness was called who, 
happening to be an enemy of Beck's, confirmed Will's evidence, 
whereupon the old Soldier, saying that inasmuch as this was 
the first day I had been at school, he would let me oflP un- 
punished, but as for Beck, he should receive three strokes with 
the cane, one for fighting without reasonable cause, one for 
taking a beating from his opponent, and one for denying the 
accusation which had been brought against him. 

I sympathised sincerely with Beck. He was hoisted, poor 
chap, on the back of the stoutest lad in school, denuded of his 
clothing at a particular part of the body which I did not then 
care to see and do not now care to name, and had inflicted upon 
him the punishment prescribed. 

The old Soldier prefaced each stroke as follows : — " This is 
for fighting without a reasonable cause" (whackl ) "This is for 
coming vanquished out of the fight " (whack! ) *' And this is 
for denying the truth of the accusation brought against him " 
(whack ! ) 

In subsequent days I heard the same formula repeatedly gone 
through, which is why I remember it so well. It was a sermon 
of exceptionally direct applicability and influence, this one of 
the old Soldier's, which was doubtless why he delivered it so 
often. In his turn I saw every boy but one of the whole school 
dancing and shouting from its effects, although not for joy. 
That boy was Will Bryan. Be the old Soldier's humour what 
it might, he could never get a cry out of Will, who thus be- 
came a hero in our eyes, and the very embodiment of bravery. 
It seemed to me that the lads, as a whole, enjoyed immensely 
the flogging of poor Beck, which I considered very cruel of 
them, seeing none knew but that he himself might be the next 
to come in for similar treatment. 



RHYS LEWIS. 47 



A heavy load of guilt was laid upon my conscience on account 
of Beck's punishment, and I was in great haste to go to bed, so 
that, as I had been brought up to do, I might ask forgiveness 
for the day's transgression. Fortunately the affair never came 
to mother's ears, and for all I know Abel Hughes never heayd 
of it. either. Nothing particular happened that afternoon. I am 
positive I got no more than one lesson — and that was one in 
spelling — the day I first went to sc'nool ; and I don't much fancy 
the other boys got anymore. Speaking generally, I can certify 
they all got more canings than lessons. One thing happened 
that day which eased my conscience very considerably, and 
which is a source of great comfort to me, even at this moment. 
When I went home to dinner a relative of mine gave me a half- 
penny for my pluck in going to school. I lost no time in 
informing Jack Beck of the happy occurrence, and in making 
a covenant of peace with him. He, on his part, accompanied 
me to the shop where the prodigious ha'porth was to be had, 
and got the greater share of the purchase, so that the sun did 
not go down upon our wrath. In my innocence I fancied that 
things having ended so happily, there was no necessity for me to 
pray for forgiveness before retiring to rest. And I did not. A& 
far as I can remember them, the occinrences of my first day in 
the school of Soldier Eobin were such as they are hc-:e narrated. 



CHAPTER IX. 

CHURCH ilATTEES. 

The other day I had the pleasure of paying a visit to the British 
School of this town; and on remarking its excellent order, the 
good and useful instruction imparted, the strict yet easy disci- 
pline, and the clean and happy appearance of the children, I could 
not help calling to mind the immeLse disadvantages I laboured 
under in the school of Soldier Eobin. My blood boils within me 
this minute at the thought of his hypocrisy, his stupidity, his lazi- 
ness, and incomparable cruelty. To do justice to the narrative, 
I am bound to say something farther about him in the present 



48 RHYS LEWIS. 



chapter before turning to something more important ; and after 
that I shall bid him farewell for ever, unless, indeed, I am 
compelled to give testimony against him in some day to come. 
I trust, however, he will find forgiveness, even as I expect the 
same. 

The old Soldier's most important business was taking our 
pence, and the next, in point of diversion, the breaking of a 
good stout cane on our backs and hands every week or nine 
days. This rough treatment was no secret to our parents ; but 
they, in their ignorance, considered it necessary to our good. 
We boys looked forward to our sharp discipline with the same 
regularity, though not with the same appetite, that we did to our 
meal time. As far as I can recollect, none of the boys, any 
more than myself, cared the least bit for learning, while he, to 
whom our instruction was entrusted, cared less. He seemed to 
me, at all times, to derive greater pleasure from our failure to 
say our lessons, than from our success, because it gave him an 
excuse for our castigation. He expected us— if he expected at 
all— to learn without help from him. I often thought he felt 
disappointed if we happened to master the lesson in spite of him. 
He never attempted to create in us a love of knowledge and a 
desire to excel ; on the contrary, what he did create was a dis- 
like to every kind of learning, and an unnatural itching in every 
lad for strength sufficient to thrash him in return, a pleasure 
which, I am sure, everyone promised himself, once he "became 
a man." I remember well how, after a sore beating from 
him, with fretful back and heavy heart, I would look at his 
wooden leg and occupy my mind with guesses at the number of 
Frenchmen he could have killed when fighting against Bony. 
Jack Beck used to say he had heard it was three hundred. 
Will Bryan put the figure much higher, adding that nothing 
would give the old Soldier greater pleasure than to kill 
the whole lot of us, and that he would do so too were he not 
afraid that he would be hanged for it : in which opinion we all 
concurred. And it really needed no great effort to believe this ; 
because of the diabolical rage depicted in his face when he was 
engaged correcting a boy — his jaw distending itself, the veins of 
his forehead swelling and becoming black, and the whole 
countenance horrible to look upon. 



J^HYS LEWIS. 49 



He had a maryellous faculty of' changing the expression of 
his features. I remember seeing him more than once in this fit 
of fury -svhen Parson Brown put in a sudden appearance. Mr. 
Brown was a corpulent, easy-going, kindly man, who never 
thought ill of his neighbours, particularly if they were Church 
folk. I saw him, I say, coming suddenly into school when the 
old Soldier had his fit on, and the face of the old hi'pocrite 
changed in a twinkling into an expression almost heavenly. 
On such an occasion he would call one of us up to repeat the 
Catechism or a Collect, and when we had done, would stroke 
our heads most affectionately. Parson Brown would congra- 
tulate him upon his labour and success. " You do deal of good 
here, Eobbit," he would say, " You be paid for all this again." 

Should any of us happen, in Mr. Brown's presence, to look 
displeased, or to give any indication of the fact that we were 
not perfectly happy— woe to us when the good man's back 
was turned. Indeed, whether we were industrious or idle, the 
eiTort it cost the old Soldier to appear gentle and benign, and 
the tax he put upon his villainous propensities in Mr. Brown's 
presence, brought about such a reaction immediately Mr. 
Brown had left, that his temper became worse than ever. 
Occasionally some one ventured to complain to Parson Brown 
that the Soldier behaved cruelly towards the boys. The 
reverend gentleman would then come to school, and talk the 
matter over with the master, who would call up, maybe, the very 
lad in respect of whom he had been accused of cruelty. And 
then, before Mr. Brown's face, he would ask the victim, his eye 
containing a plain intimation what the answer was to be : "Am 
I not a kind master ? " 

It were not well with that boy if he said otherwise, and so Mr. 
Brown would be satisfied that the complaints were only so much 
idle gossip after all. 

And yet Soldier Eobin's school had its advantages, or what 
we boys considered to be advantages. Every Friday afternoon 
the old warrior wouVd select two of us to be his servants for the 
following week. It was the servants' duty to clean the school- 
house, light the fire, and run errands. Under the latter head 
were included frequent journeys to the Cross Poxes to fetch the 
Soldier's beer— always without the money. Until one got used 



50 RHYS LEWIS. 



to it, this latter was a very unpleasant business, because old 
Mrs. Tibbet, the ale wife, chid us at a frightful rate, and made 
it a point of showing the messenger, each time, the amount of 
the old Soldier's indebtedness, scored up, in chalk hieroglyphics, 
on the back of the cellar door. She was a fat old woman, the 
same size all the way up, was Mrs. Tibbet, with a perpetually 
purple face, arising, some people said, from constant protesta- 
tion that she never as much as touched a drop of intoxicating 
drink. The boys cherished a very high regard for her for taking 
the same view of the old Soldier's life and character that they did. 
I remember well the gusto with which she used to deliver her 
opinion of his failings, whilst pointing to the reckoning on the 
cellar door, which he would never, she declared, be able to pay. 
I heard Will Bryan once make the remark to her that the old 
Soldier had another and much larger reckoning than that, 
which, also, he would never be able to pay. 

"What!" exclaimed the old woman in great alarm, "has 
he an account anywhere else, then ? " 

When Will explained that it was to the great reckoning of the 
Day of Judgment he was referring, she cooled down at once, 
and said, " ! well, between him and his business as to that. 
Every one of us must go to his Answering, and all will have 
justice done them. If he pays what he owes me he may take 
his chance afterwards." 

The servants' most unpleasant duty was that of lighting of the 
school-house fire, because they were obliged to hunt for brush- 
wood for the purpose, as the hedges round about bore witness. 
I remember very well one morning when we were without a 
scrap of wood to start the fire. Will Bryan asking me, in all 
seriousness, if I knew whether the master was in the habit of 
taking his wooden leg to bed with him, and could we possibly 
manage to steal it ? 

" Ah ! " said Will, " what a beautiful blaze it would make." 

In fancy, I still see his face brightening with satisfaction at 
the bare idea of the thing. Poor old Will ! He never had the 
chance of putting his wish into execution. 

But as to the advantages of which I spoke. Whilst acting 
the servant, one was never asked to as much as look at a book, 
and was wholly exempt from punishment, no matter what the 



RHYS LEWIS. 51 

miscliief lie may have committed during liis period of ministra- 
tion. Indeed, it was said that the master, on one occasion, 
actually smiled upon a servant. I cannot vouch for the truth 
of this, for I never once saw a smile on his face save when Mr. 
Brown was present. In view of these tremendous advantages, 
we were always found on Friday afternoons waiting like mice 
to hear whose lot the comforting ministry would fall to on 
the following week. Seldom did it come to Will Bryan's turn 
and mine, for the reason that our parents were chapel people, 
and that we ourselves hardly ever went to Church except when 
distributions of cake took place there. It was our visit to 
Church on one Good Priday morning which put an end to the 
term of our stay in the school of Soldier Eobin ; and after I 
have described that event, I shall, as I have said, bid this 
particular Pharaoh an eternal farewell. In contemplating the 
circumstances I am about to relate, I hardly understand my 
feeling with regard thereto. I have a sort of guilty conscious- 
ness for my own mischief, while, at the same time, I am unable 
to repress the inward chuckle which will arise when I remember 
the part I played. If the feeling is a sinful one, I hope I 
shall be forgiven for it. Though it contain the chronicle of 
my own wickedness, it is impossible I can pass over such an 
occurrence, inasmuch as it has an important bearing upon my 
history, and was the cause of terminating that modicum of day- 
schooling it was thought best I should receive. 
• It was a Good Friday morning. There being no service at 
the chapel, and the weather being too wet for us to go out to 
play. Will Bryan and I went to Church with the rest of the 
boys. I had no notion Will had any but an innocent object in 
going, and he never opened his mouth to me on the way. He 
feared, possibly, if he made his intention known to me, I and he 
would not have agreed about it. In the old Church there was 
a great square, deep-seated pew, capable of holding twenty or 
more youngsters, set apart for the accommodation of Soldier 
Eobin's scholars. The door once shut upon us we were not able, 
on account of the depth, to see even Parson Brown in the 
pulpit; neither could any of the congregation see us. The seat 
next to ours was long and narrow and here sat the Soldier, all 
by himself, that he might overawe the children and keep them 



52 RHYS LEWIS. 



well Id. order. For the schoolmaster's greater comfort. Mr. 
Browu, conformably with his usual kindness, had caused a hole 
to be bored in the partition, through which the wooden leg 
might be thrust when its owner sat down. The schoolmaster's 
comfort was not the only purpose achieved by this means. The 
timber extremity' protruded into the boys' pew "to the end" 
that they might be perpetually reminded of the fact that he 
whom they feared was near them, though unseen. So were 
they kept within the bour.ds of decenc5^ 

Shortly after the service began, I found Will gazing con- 
templatively at as much as was in sight of the wooden leg. 
Next behold him taking from his pocket a length of thin, but 
strong cord, the running knot on which showed clearly that 
his was no unpremeditated plan. He got upon his knees and 
gently slipped the knot round the tip of the timber toe, handing 
me the other end of the cord, with the whispered words : 
*' When you feel a bite, keep your hold of the line," — referring 
to the leg as if it were a fish. I dared not disobey. It was not 
long before I got my bite. As is customary in Church, the 
congregation rose to their feet, and the Soldier tried to do the 
same. We heard him fall back in his seat like a lump of lead, 
in which position we kept him during the whole of the service. 
At first he bellowed and roared like a bull in a net, but his 
voice was speedily drowned by the mighty tones of the organ. 
Will and I held on to the cord until we were blue in the face, 
none of the other boys giving us any assistance, with the ex-' 
ception of Jack Beck, who, without waiting to be asked, rolled 
up his sleeves and seconded us splendidly. The greater number 
of them enjoyed our mischievous trick to such an extent that 
they were obliged to hold their sides with laughter, and stuif 
their handkerchiefs into their mouths to prevent themselves 
from screaming. Others looked on in fear and trembling, 
thinking only of the consequences. The Church cleaner's son 
was the only one who seemed actually displeased. When the 
service was being brought to a close. Will oniered John Beck to 
take out his knife and cut the cord within a foot of the leg. 
Beck having done so, Will instantly whipped the remainder into 
his pocket, observing, "There he is now, like a heu which 
doesn't come home to lay," alluding, doubtless, to the custom 



RBYS LEV/IS. 53 



of tying a string to a lien's leg, so that her owner might be 
able to tell where she deposits her eggs. "Will told us to file 
out leisurely, and with a sober face. We were going, slowly 
and seriously according to the word of command, when we 
noticed Parson Brown, on his way to the vestry, looking oyer 
the edge of the Soldier's pew. 

"Holloa I Eobbit," we heard him saying, "I thought you 
not in Church to-day." 

* We did not wait to see or hear any more. Will Bryan, how- 
ever, assured us that, on looking back, he saw the reverend 
gentleman pressing his handkerchief to his mouth, the nape of 
his neck and his ears being as red as fire. Will believed, from 
laughter on discovering what it was that had kept the Soldier 
invisible. And this was not unlikely; for a merry old soul 
was Mr. Brown. 

We had a very bad time of it thence till the following Monday 
morning. When we became aware of the nature of the 
atrocity we had committed, we entertained no sort of doubt but 
that the " Skulk" would give the master the fullest particulars 
of all that had taken place. Many were the conferences 
between Bryan, Beck, and myself ; but we could not see any 
way of escape from the punishment we so richly deserved. 
Monday morning came, and with it the necessity for going to 
school. Indeed. Will appeared only too eager to go, for he 
called for me much earlier than usual. I sometimes fancied he 
wanted the business over and done with ; at others, that he had 
some scheme in hand for evading it, he appeared so particularly 
reserved and thoughtful. As for me, I was so terrified that my 
legs would barely carry me ; and Beck felt the same. Seeing 
us so dreadfully frightened, Will said as we were going 
through the school-house door, " Cheer up, boys ; it will come 
off better than you fear it will." I did not see how he could 
hope for anything of the kind, but his words confirmed me in 
the notion that he had formed some plan for our rescue. All the 
boys were iu attendance, and, for once, silent and still, as if in 
anxious expectation of our arrival. When we had taken our 
seats. Will planted his eyes straight in the face of the "Skulk," 
who, blushing to the roots of his hair, turiiCd away his head. 
All understood what that meant, but nobodr said a word. 



54 RHYS LEWIS. 



Presently the silence was broken by the sound of the Soldier's 
■wooden leg pegging away towards the school. The boys 
glanced at Bryan, Beck, and myself, with looks of pity and 
concern. I cannot describe my feelings when the fierce face of 
the master made its appearance, and when I noticed that, the 
instant he came in, his glance shot straight to the spot where 
Will and I were sitting. Still I had some faint hope that Bryan 
had a plan of escape. The old warrior, as Will called him, went 
at once to his desk and said prayers as usual, the responses of 
the boys being weak and half-hearted this time. No sooner 
had he pronounced the " Amen," than every eye was directed 
towards him, and I saw him take from his desk a stout new 
cane. He turned up the cuff of his right coat-sleeve, spat on 
his hand, and glaring, tiger-like, at Will Bryan, advanced with 
quick step in his direction. Instead, however, of making the 
usual preparatory shrug, Will jumped to his feet. The Soldier 
pulled up and ordered the "Skulk" to lock the door, and guard 
the outlet. But Will had no thought of flight. Although his 
lips were white and trembling, his eyes shot fire, and he never 
once took them off the Soldier. This defiant attitude made the 
master hesitate one moment, but the next he moved on again, 
his face looking ghastly from rage. When within a couple of 
yards of Will he raised the cane to the level of his head, for the 
purpose of a stroke, but before it could descend, Will, with one 
bound, had laid fierce hold of the wooden leg, a sharp pull at 
which, and a butt with the head in his stomach, sent the Soldier 
to the ground like a log. The bump of that skull against the 
floor still sounds as plainly in my ears as if it had only occurred 
at the moment of writing. Will turned upon his heel and walked 
leisurely towards the door, of which the ** Skulk " tremblingly 
handed him the key — and in this he was wise. In passing out 
Will beckoned us to follow. I refused, because, for the first time, 
I believed him to be a bold bad boy. Hundreds of times since 
have I repented that I did not take the hint. Beck, wiser than 
I, ran off for dear life. 

For a while the Soldier lay dazed and stunned, although not 
altogether helpless. I never saw, before or after, a man with a 
wooden leg trying to get up off the ground. I can imagine it 
to be one of the most stupendous of feats. Up the warrior got, 



RHYS LEWIS. 55 



howevei, "without help from any one, looking like an ox in the 
shambles, which the butcher has made an unsuccessful attempt 
to knock down. He snorted through the nostrils audibly. I 
saw at once the folly of not running out sfter "Will, and sprang 
to my feet with the intention of rectifying my mistake. It was 
too late. The next minute the cane was cutting and slashing 
me in all directions— over the head, the neck, the back, hands, 
legs, in short, the whole of my body. Dark night fell upon me, 
and I lost all consciousness. I do not know how long I re- 
mained in that state. On regaining my senses, I felt as if in a 
dream, and was utterly unable to move from where I lay. I 
fancied the school to be empty, and yet I heard some one 
moaning as if in the agony of death. I thought at one time 
the moans were my own, and that, deserted by all, I had been 
left there to die. Managing, after a desperate effort, to turn 
my head, I saw, standing terror-struck near the open door, two 
or three of the boys, of whom Jack Beck was one. I called to 
him, and he, finding I was alive, ran up and helped me into a 
sitting posture. Every joint and bone of me seemed parting 
asunder. To my astonishment I found the old Soldier stretched 
on his back, with pallid face, and my brother Bob, in 
working clothes, and black as coal, kneeling upon his chest, 
and, it seemed to me, deliberately throttling him. To my 
shame I must admit, being bound to tell the truth, that I 
shouted with all the strength which was left me, *' Give it him, 
Bob." Finding from this that I was alive, Bob let go his hold, 
came over to me and began to cry. Seeing I could not walk, 
he took me upon his back, and away we went, leaving the 
Soldier to recover himself whenever it pleased him. It would 
appear that Beck, after making his escape, stayed at the door 
to listen and to see how it fared with me. He quickly made out 
that I was "catching it." Who should come by, almost 
directly, but my brother Bob, on his way home from the night 
shift. Beck shouted to him that the old Soldier was killing me. 
That was enough. Bob rushed into the schoolroom, and, I 
have heard the boys say who were eye-witnesses of his 
sudden entrance, with face as black as the chimney, that they 
thought for certain he was the Evil One come to fetch the old 
Soldier. Bob caught the master beating me whilst I was 



56 RHYS LEWIS. 



wholly insensible, sprang upon him like a madman, and brought 
him down with the same suddenness that he had been brought 
down a few minutes previously. It was in this position I found 
them when I came to myself. 

That was not the end of the business. Bob and I and Will 
Bryan were members of the Children's Society, and it was 
impossible an occurrence of this kind could be passed by un- 
noticed. But inasmuch as I shall have to make reference to divers 
of the good old fathers who were connected v^'ith the church at 
that period, I will take another chapter in which to narrate the 
history. Had I intended it for publication, I would have 
written in greater detail my account of Soldier Robin's school, 
so that the lads of these days might see the enormous increase 
and improvement that have taken place in schools and school- 
masters during less than half a generation. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE SUBJECT OF EDUCATIOJ^. 

I BEMEMBEE, perfectly well what was passing through my mind 
whilst being carried home upon Bob's backafter that unparalleled 
flogging I had received at the hands of the old Soldier ; and it 
was this: *' Shall I receive another beating from my mother, I 
wonder, on her coming to hear of my wickedness ? " I put the 
question to Bob, who assured me I would have no need of 
another beating for a twelvemonth at the least. Wounded 
though I was, the reflection that the punish tuent was over 
brought its happiness. My mind ran upon Bryan and Bock. 
Poor fellows ! Punishment was still awaiting them, if not 
at the hands of the Soldier, at those of their parents, for certain. 
True, I had been made a scapegoat for them in the school, but 
that was all over now, and I was more fortunate than they. 
Has not this been my experience at every period of life ? Does 
not the small trial awaiting me loom larger in my eyes than 
the great trial passed? It never occurred to Bob to ask 
me what I had done to deserve so severe a thrashing from the 



RHYS LEWIS. 57 



master; but that was the very first question put me by mother 
on my entrance into the house. Never in my life having con- 
cealed from her the truth, I told her, weepini*-. the story of the 
tying of the wooden leg in the Church. 1 could not help 
noticing that Bob enjoyed the narration immensely. Mother, 
however, was differently affected, and it was with difficulty that 
Bob managed to save me from another beating. On examining 
my body and seeing the great red weals which covered it, her 
tone changed wonderfully, and she gave other evidence of her 
close kinship to me. 

I remember, as well as if it were yesterday, looking upon 
myself as one who had come through much, and feeling a sort of 
satisfaction that I had scars to show, which enlisted the sym- 
pathy of my mother. But I wondered she blamed so little of the 
Soldier. I do not wonder at it now, because her purpose, doubt- 
less, was to impress my mind with the fact that I had deserved 
my chastisement. She told me I was a naughty boy, and wept, 
I then thought, for my wickedness; although I am sure by this 
time it was for my bruises. She said many things which I can- 
not now call to mind. Of these, however, I am certain: — 
'•That there was sense even in soldiering; that there was a 
difference between beating a child and battling against Bony; 
that a wooden leg was but a wooden leg after all." But the 
most cheering words which greeted my ears were those in which 
she declared I had had quite enough of schooling ; that I had 
been under instruction for well nigh a whole year, and that it 
was high time I set about doing something. Neither once nor 
twice had mother told us that too much learning spoiled a child, 
and had led one here and there to the gallows, adding that she 
had never had a day's schooling herself, save at the Sunday 
School, and that not a penny had been spent on the education 
of my grandfather and grandmother. Still they knew "what 
was what," had found the truth, were blameless in their lives, 
respected by their neighbours, and had died in peace. 

Mother was a woman of strong. feelings, and remarkably free 
of speech. She must also have had an excellent memory, 
"because she invariably clenched her words with a passage of 
Scripture, or a verse of Yicar Pritchard's, or the Bard of Nant's, 
although not often from the latter without the addition, " It is 



58 RHYS LEWIS. 



a great pity Thomas never found grace." Upon this particular 
occasion she directed Bob's attention and my own to divers of 
the Proverbs of Solomon, hurrying on her cloak and bonnet the 
while, and then going out. Bob looked through the window in 
order to see what direction she took, and said, *' Ehys ! mother, 
mark you, is going over to put the old Soldier through his drill. 
Let us have that story of the wooden leg once more." 

I went over the story a second time, and, I must admit, it 
came much more easily now my mother was absent. Hardly 
had I finished when she returned, looking calmer than when 
she left the house, but much more serious and troubled. After 
she had taken off her cloak and bonnet, sat down and wiped her 
eyes with her apron, the following conversation took place— that 
is, in substance, and, as far as I can recollect it, in words, too. 

" Bob," said she, " without saying anything of the trouble I 
have had with your father, this is the saddest day I have lived 
to see. I had hoped better things of you, things tending to 
salvation. I thought you would have been a bit of a succour to 
me. But whilst I fancied that the good seed prospered, behold 
the tares appearing. An enemy hath done this." 

Mother, as I said before, would often use a Scriptural idiom. 
Bob, although a chair was close by, squatted, collier-fashion, 
on his haunches, leaning his back against one of the supports 
of the mantelshelf. 

"Well mother, what's the matter now?" he asked. "The 
enemy, otherwise Satan, is always troubling you; and one 
might think, from your talk, that the old fellow never found 
time to think, or take notice of, anything or anybody but our- 
selves, for nothing ever happens in our history from morning 
till night that you do not see the devil's hand in it. Por my 
own part, if such is the case, I think it about time now he 
gave somebody else a turn. I have no great liking for his 
company, and I don't care if he heard me say so, either. 
Besides, I can't see what there is in our family to require that 
particular attention on the ^evil's part which you are in the 
habit of attributing to him, and it is my opinion that he must 
neglect a good deal of his business with other people quite as 
deserving of his notice as we are ; for, clever as he may be, he 
is but finite after all." 



RHYS LEWIS. 59 



** Bob," said mother, ** I am soiTy to hear you speak so 
lightly of matters of such weight. We are not without 
knowledge of his devices who goeth about like a roaring lion 
seeking those whom he may devour. That which I have greatly 
feared hath come upon me. I have, over and over again, said 
that this newspaper, half of which is lies, would be sure to prove 
your ruin, and yet you must have your head constantly inside 
it, instead of reading your Bible. When I was a girl we never 
heard of a newspaper save up at the Hall, and with some few 
of the uncircumcised Saxons— an idle, pleasure seeking, fox 
hunting lot. No one who set store by his soul ever thought 
of reading anything but the Bible, Bunyan's ''Pilgrim's 
Progress," Charles's " Bible Dictionary," and Gurnal's book. 
But now, forsooth, everybody must have his newspaper, and 
his English book, of which no one understands the contents. 
And what is the result? Why, a generation of people who 
have not the fear of God before their eyes, who are under no 
dispensation, who are proud, and ostentatious, thinking more of 
finery than of salvation, knowing more of every thief than of 
the thief on the Cross, and of every death than of the Death 
which was life unto the world. Those are the fruits for you, 
Bob." 

"You err, mother," returned Bob, "those are not the 
fruits of reading newspapers, but the fruits of a depraved heart. 
You remember the Apostle says, *Give attendance to reading."* 

" So he does, my son ; but to reading what ? Not the news- 
paper, but Holy Scripture, which is able to make us wise 
unto salvation. And the same Apostle also says, * Meditate on 
these things, and in these things remain ; ' but how is it 
possible for you or anyone else to remain in the things when 
you have your nose in the newspaper everlastingly ? Beware, 
my boy, beware ! " 

" The world goes ahead, mother," remarked Bob, " and it is 
no use your thinking that things should remain as they were 
when you were a girl." 

"Goes ahead!" said mother, in a loud voice, "yes, fast enough, 
but whither, pray ? Nearer heaven ? I don't know. Are the 
means of grace better relished now than they used to be ? Is there 
more of hearing of the Gospel, and of following in the footsteps 



6o RHYS LEWIS. 



of the ministers of G-od's Word ? ' Do you, in these days, see the 
people in harvest time leave their labour in broad bright day 
to go and listen to the stranger ? Hardly. They'd much 
rather go to a concert or competitive meeting to stamp their 
feet and shout * Hooray ! ' and ' En-koh ! ' after some comic 
song than to a sermon to cry ' Halleluj ah, ' and ' Glory to 
God,' for free grace. If that is what you call ' going ahead,' 
give me ' going back,' say I, Bob."' 

*' At the period you refer to," returned Bob, *' the Gospel was 
new to Wales, and people naturally took greater interest in it ; 
but by this time we have been long accustomed to the truth, 
and let us hope there is none the less of real religion in the land." 

" New ! Do you know what you are talking about ? " asked 
mother, in a bit of a temper. " Is the Gospel not as new to- 
day as it ever was to those who feel its need. 

* Some new virtue in that dear death shall ever come to light.' 

Glad tidings of great joy the Gospel is, and always will be. No, 
goodness help us all at the end of a thousand ages, if it is 
* long accustomed ' we are to be. I am surprised to hear you 
speak like that, you, a lad who have read so much. The Gospel 
•was not a new subject— Wales was acquainted with it time out 
of mind— but it was the people who had got a new heart, 
new spirit, new relish for it, through reading the Word, 
prayer to God, and an outpouring of the Holy Ghost. But now, 
as I have said, people read the paper instead of their Bible, and 
have a greater taste for concert and eisteddfod than for the 
means of grace. And there is no room to expect a blessing and 
an increase in the ministry while things remain as they are." 

"You must admit, mother," said Bob, "that there is a 
greater hearing of the Word, that we have more chapels and 
opportunities of religious exercise, and more preachers of the 
Gospel now than ever. At the time you speak of, there were 
but a few poor folk connected with the cause, and our preachers, 
as a rule, were but plain men, ill-informed, and uneducated. 
Nowadays our best and most respectable people are religionists, 
while our ministers, for the most part, are men of refinement 
and culture." 

'* You have spoken truly, Bob," replied mother. "There is 



RHYS LEWIS. 6t 



more of hearing, and we are thankful for that, but the question 
is, is there more of believing ? There is room to fear — I hope 
I am mistaken — that religion in these days has become more of 
a fashion than a matter of life. Many, I fear me, come to 
chapel, not to see the Saviour, like those vrise men of old, but 
to be seen of others ; and our congregation is often more like a 
flower-garden than like people who have come to listen to the 
Gospel. ' Poor folk,' it is true, were those who joined the 
cause at the commencement, as I have heard your grandmother 
say, and as I myself have to some extent seen. But they, look 
you, W8re rich in grace, and heirs of the life eternal. How 
many can you name of these ' spectacle' people, as you call them, 
who are noted for grace and piety, and a terror to the un- 
godly of the neighbourhood ? Do you ever see the drunken, 
and the idle skulking off to their holes when a spectacle one 
comes in sight, as I have known them do before the ' poor folk ? * 
And as to these fine chapels, they are very convenient, I admit; 
but, do you know what, I have often feared— 1 hope I am 
wroug — there will be more of rejoicing in heaven over the barns 
and the dwelling-houses than over them. You ruffled rne a 
little, Bob, by speaking so slightingly of the old preachers. 
You too, I see, like many others in these days, have learned to 
think meanly of God's servants of old. 'Plain and uneducated' 
they were, it is true, but don't you call them ignorant in my 
hearing, it's best for you. They had been taught the way to 
heaven, Bob; while as to the Bible, they had that at their 
fingers' ends. And where can you find their equal in these 
days ? " 

"Nothing was farther from my mind, mother," said Bob, 
" than speaking disrespectfully of the old preachers. They were 
pious, holy men, without a doubt, but they wouldn't do for these 
days, when education has made such strides, and congregations 
are so much better informed than they were at that time." 

"Wouldn't do I " mother said, raising her voice. "Wouldn't 
do for whom, do you think ? They did for God then, and surely 
to goodness they ought to do for us now. Wouldn't do, indeed I 
Nothing would please me better than to see one of them given, 
the chance. Were old Llecheiddior permitted to visit us once 
more, you should just see the racket there would be here 



62 RHYS LEWIS, 

directly. Do you know what ? One of the old preachers would 
set a congregation afire, spectacle folk and all, in the time it 
takes a whole waggon-load of these students to fumble for their 
pocket handkerchiefs. 

" You have always gone against the * Students,' and indeed, 
against education generally, mother," returned Bob. "But it 
is not meet for you to kick ; the best men we have are splendid 
scholars, and do all they can in the interest of education, parti- 
cularly the education of preachers. And what would have 
become of us by this time but for our learned men, some of 
whom you yourself think very highly of ? " 

*• I gone against learning. Bob ! No, name of goodness. But 
I will say this much, that it is not necessary to give a lot of 
education to poor children; and that it is not learning that 
makes a great preacher; else Dick Aberdaron, the greatest 
scholar the world ever saw, would have made the best preacher. 
But goodness help him, with his cats and his filth. Education 
is all well enough where it is wanted, and if sanctified by 
grace, but a curse, otherwise, to my way of thinking." 

** Paul, your great friend," observed Bob, "was a great 
scholar, and he would never have done what he did unless he 
had been." 

« ' How can you prove that ? " asked my mother. ' ' That he sat 
at the feet of Gamaliel does not show he was a great scholar. 
Don't you fancy, even if you do understand polikits, you under- 
stand your Bible better than your mother. It was the con- 
version on the way to Damascus that made Paul great ; before 
then he was great in nothing except as a persecutor, and you 
and I would never have heard of him but for that Conversion. 
And I'll tell you another thing : it was but a poor price Paul put 
upon worldly knowledge; and had they wanted to make him a 
Doctor or a Mister of Harts, he would have told them directly, 
* I never took it upon me to know anything save Jesus Christ, 
and him crucified.' A thousand times better to him the title 
*Paul, servant of the Lord,' than 'Doctor Saul of Tarsus.' Do you 
know what ? I have no patience hearing you and others talk of 
education, education ever and always, just as if education could 
make main and mountain, and was a good enough substitute 
lor the grace oi God. Does Education, I wonder, teach 



RHYS LEWIS. 6 J 



people not to respect their elders. Grace of God does nothing 
of the kind— that I do know." 

*' What are you alluding to, mother ? " asked Bob. 

*' You know very well what I am alluding to, I warrant me. 
Is it the newspaper, the general enlightener, that taught you 
to beat an old man who lost a limb by fighting for his country? 
Bob, I am astonished that you, a boy who never got a day's 
schooling, should thus bring disgrace upon the cause, and 
shame to the face of your mother. Go and ask the old man's 
pardon at once, for shame to you." 

" Ask his pardon— Xever," said Bob. '• Even if I was a little 
hasty, I did nothing but my duty by him, and if ever again I 
see the old Soldier or any one else, were he as big as a giant, 
beating Ehys as mercilessly as I saw him being beaten to-day, 
I am not his brother if I do not then what I did just now, 
should it be in my power. It is so nature teaches me." 

'• It is not depraved nature that should govern you. my son," 
said mother mournfully, "but the new birth. The Word says 
distinctly you should be ' no striker.' " 

"A verse for a bishop, and not for a collier, mother," re- 
marked Bob. 

*"Bob," returned my mother, "your heart has become 
hardened. I never thought those English books and news- 
papers would have had such an effect upon you. I am glad now, 
although I did it in a bit of a hurry, that I called with Abel 
Hughes to tell him the story before anyone else had the chance, 
and induced him to come and speak to you in the Society to- 
morrow night. If other people wish to conceal their children's 
disobedience and wickedness, I do not. Pray for grace, my 
son," and, burying her face in her apron, she began to cry— a 
proceeding which always put an end to the controversy, as far 
as Bob was concerned. 

Although still broad daylight. I was sent to bed to be healed 
of my wounds. Unable to sleep, I fell to musing and ponder- 
ing over one particular expression which mother had used to 
Bob — " the trouble I have had with your father." What could 
that mean ? 



64 RHYS LEWIS. 

CHAPTEft XI. 

WILL BUYAN ON THE NATURE OF A OHUECH. 

I PASSED a day aud a night in bed, for the healing of my 
wounds, but "was very littie better when I got up. I felt as 
though I had been sleeping in starch, so stiff were my limbs 
when I attempted to move. But for all my pain, the thought 
that I had " finished my schooling" was more than sufhcient 
to sustain me under the trial. Mother Ipoked low-spirited, and 
I noticed that she frequently sighed. I fancied I knew what 
was troubling her, and was stricken to the heart with grief to 
think it was my wickedness which had brought it all about. 
Still she did not reproach me, aud the only difference in her 
demeanour towards me was that she was silent and serious. 
She never as much as asked me how I felt, lest, I imagine, that 
should make me think the severe whipping I got was anything 
but what I richly deserved. And yet I knew very well she 
much desired to find out. 

I think, if I am not deceiving myself, that I had in me, even 
when rather young, a certain quickness in understanding broad 
hints and signs, and that, to some extent, I possess the faculty 
still. I perfectly recollect that when a neighbour came to our 
house, my mother, so that I might not understand the conversa- 
tion, would speak in parables, observing to her friend, that ' '' little 
pigshad long ears," and thinking, in her innocence, that I could 
not tell what that meant. But I knew very well that I was the 
little pig, and was always fairly able to follow the dialogue, al- 
though she thought it was Latin to me. She fancied I did not see 
her that morning furtively watching my attempts to move. The 
fact was I could read her heart as plainly as if she carried 
it in her hand. Oh ! how unworthy was I of the care, 
the solicitude, and the love that heart contained towards me ! 
I did not know at the time what it was that weighed most 
heavily upon her mind. It was the knowledge that circum- 
stances demanded the infliction of church discipline upon her 
sons. 

In the course of the day, I got to know that Will Bryan and 
John Beck were hanging around the house anxious to see me. 



RHYS LEWIS. 65 



Whilst motlier was looking after a loaf in tlie oven, I stole out. 
and in a corner of the garden my two companions and myself 
had a long confidential chat. On comparing notes, I found that 
our proceedings in the Church and at school were known to all 
the neighbourhood, that Bryan and Beck had had a thrashing 
from their parents, which, as they themselves admitted, was 
not worth talking of in the same breath as mine from the 
master. This admission made me think once more that I was 
one who had "come through much," and I began to consider 
myself a kind of hero. I learned further that neither of my 
friends had been to school that day, that Beck had got permis- 
sion to stay at home until his father found an opportunity of 
speaking with the master, but that Bryan, though distinctly 
ordered off to school by his father, had been "playing truwels." 
In the course of conversation I made two remarks which had a 
great effect upon the boys. One was that mother said I had 
had quite enough of schooling. Both stared enviously and in- 
credulously at me, as though they could not possibly compre- 
hend how such happiness could fall to the lot of any human 
creature. After numerous manifestations of astonishment, 
Bryan, addressijig me, said, " Ehysl I would be willing for the 
old Warrior to tie my hands behind my back, make me stand an 
hour on one leg, and then to break a new cane across my 
shoulders, if the gaffer yon' (meaning his father), would but 
say the same thing to me." 

Beck gave a nod, which signified that for the same reward he 
would be perfectly willing to undergo the si me ordeal. Not 
less was their wonder when I told them that Bob's case, my 
own, and Bryan's would be brought before the Society that 
very night. Beck, being a Churchman, could not clearly 
make out what "Society," and "brought before the Society" 
meant, until after Will Bryan had given him the explanation 
foilowing. Will had a special gift of definition with respect 
to anything which he fancied he himself understood, and it 
was in this way he defined for Beck the nature and object 
of a Society. 

"Do you see. Jack," said he, "Society means a lot of good 
folk who think themselves bad, coming together every Tuesday 
night, to find fault with themselves, and run each other down." 



66 RHYS LEWIS, 



** I don't understand you," said Beck. 

" Well," said Will, '* look at it in this way: you know old 
Mrs. Peters, and you know Ehys's mother here — it is not 
because Rhys is here that I say it — but everybody will tell you 
they are a couple of good, pious women. Well, they attend the 
Society, and Abel Hughes goes up to them and asks what is on 
their minds. They reply that they are a very bad lot, guilty of 
I don't know how many things, Mrs. Peters very often crying as 
she says it. After that Abel Hughes will tell them they are not 
so bad as they think, gives them a piece of a Ivice, repeats a lot 
of verses for them, and then moves off to some one else, who will 
carry on in the same way, and so the whole round, until it gets 
to be half -past eight o'clock, when we all go home." 

"There is nothing of that sort in the Church," observed 
Beck. "We have no 'Society,' and I never heard anyone 
of us run himself down." 

"That is where the difference between Church and Chapel 
comes in," said Will. *' You Church people think yourselves 
good when you are bad, while Chapel people think themselves 
bad when they are good." 

"You don't mean to tell me," said Beck, "that all who 
belong to the Society are good people, and that all who belong 
to the Church are bad ? " 

"All," returned Will, " who take the Sacrament in Chapel 
are good people, although they think themselves bad, and all 
who take the Sacrament in Church, think themselves good, while 
more than half of them are bad. There is the old Soldier— you 
know very well he takes Sacrament on Sunday morning, 
just to please Mr. Brown, while every Sunday night he goes 
boozing to the Cross Foxes till he is too blind to see his way 
home again. Did he belong to Chapel, look you, he would get 
the kick out pretty sharp. But when did you see anybody 
expelled from Church?" 

Beck was uot a ready controversialist, and so Bryan went on 
with his exposition of what was meant by "being brought 
before the Society." 

"You see," he said, "when any one belonging to the 
Society does wrong — even they, you know, are not perfect — 
someone else must needs go to the elders and split upon him ; 



I^HYS LEWIS. 67 

and next Society, after that, Abel Hughes will call him to 
account. If he should be badly otf, like William the Coal, Abel 
makes him come up to the bench before the Big Seat ; but if he 
is a swell, like Mr. Eichards the draper, Abel goes up to him." 

" Well, and what does Abel do with the man ? Take him to 
jail? " asked Beck. 

•' No danger," was Will's reply. " Abel will inquire into the 
business, and invite one or two of those present to say a few 
words. If the sinner is repentant, and, like William the Coal, 
lays the blame on Satan, saying he will never do it again, they 
forgive him, but if, like Mr. Eichards the draper, he won't say 
anything at all, they refuse him the Sacrament for three months 
or more, or even expel him from the Society. There is not 
much harm about the thing, you know, but it is a bit of a 
bother. I would much rather not go to Society to-night; 
only I must, or there will be a rQw over yonder." 

Though younger by some years than Bryan, I looked upon 
the !:rociety as something much more important than this. 
Mother had taught me to do so. But, lor that mcitter, Wiii 
looked lightly upon everything, and that proved his ruin. To 
proceed, however. Beck's last words made a great impression 
upon me. They were these : — 

" Boys, I like the order of the Church better than the order 
of the Chape:. All who belong to Church can do just as they 
like, without anyone to call them to account. Each minds his 
own business, which is the best way too, I think." 

Bryan was usually a zealous advocate of chapel, but it was 
clear that he was disposed to agree with Beck upon this point ; 
60 by way of conclusion he said : — 

"This is how it is, John: it is more comfortable in the 
Church, but more safe in the Chapel. 

As far as my memory goes, this was the first discussion I 
ever heard on Church Government, and it left a deeper impres- 
sion on my mind than many an one heard later between persons 
of greater importance and assertiveness. I, at any rate, could 
not look on church discipline in the same light that Will 
Bryan did ; and great was my anxiety at the thought of going 
to the Society that ni^ht. 



6S RHYS LEWIS. 



The time of going arrived ; and seeing Bob getting himself 
ready, Mother did not think it necessary to speak to him on the 
matter. She and I started together towards the chapel, but 
after we had taken a step or two she turned back, and I heard 
her say, '' Bob, don't be stubborn to-night, I beg of you ; " and 
we then went on our way. 

Recalling that Society, I cannot help thinking of several 
of the old characters, who have, by this time, to use Mrs. 
Tibbet's phrase ''gone to their 'count." There's Abel 
Hughes, of whom I have said something already. A God-fenr- 
ing man, firm in the faith, and strong-minded, was Abel. His 
one fault, as far as I am aware of, was his severity. There was 
harmless Hugh Bellis, gentle, tender-hearted man, who always 
wept during sermon, eager for the forgiveness of all, no 
matter what the sin committed. The least religious-minded 
would admit Hugh to be an exceedingly pious man. There was 
Edward Peters, precise, and careful about the books, but 
crabbed, and unpopular with the children, because he would 
not allow them to leave in the middle of the service. Never a 
word did he speak in public, save in connection with the col- 
lections and the pew-money. A good man at bottom, who had 
the confidence of the church. There was Thomas Bowen the 
preacher : lively, zealous, impulsive, constantly making mis- 
takes and apologizing for them. There was Mr. Eichards the 
draper, a proud, showy person, at all times pushing to the fore, 
and with everybody desirous of keeping him back. There was 
William the Coal, poor, small of body and of mind, soft, and 
easily persuadable. He was called William the Coal, because 
some member or other of his family had, time out of mind, sold 
coal by the penn'orth. Every winter, when work was slack, 
William was constant at the Society ; but when spring came, 
he would take to drinking over-much, and be excommunicated 
in consequence. He was forgiven many a transgression because 
he was not considered quite like other people. I heard mother 
say that William had the root of the matter in him, but that 
trunk and branches were too weak to withstand the cross-wind. 
I was of the same opinion, for William, every time he prayed, 
Vvould shed tears, and to my boyish mind, everyone who wept 
while praying must be a very pious man indeed, a notion which 



RHYS LEWIS. 69 



sticks to me still. There was John Lloyd, too, of unpleasant 
memory: tall, thin, sharp-featured, coarse-skinned, andfidgetty; 
diligent in the " means," and always finding fault with some- 
thing or somebody. "The Old Scraper," Will Bryan called 
him. He was a shocking miser, on which account he never 
came under church censure, for his love of money prevented 
him from getting drunk, or frequenting forbidden places. He 
set a rigid face against tea meetings, concerts, and every 
gathering to which the token with the Bang or Queen's head 
was a passport. H© was always great on economy, and the 
necessity of making provision for the future. His coLcern for 
spirituality in religion was something tremendous, and ho 
doubted, very often, there was too much talk of money and of 
preaching for money. Mother tried to beheve that he, too, had 
the root of the matter, but she feared it was worm-eaten some- 
where, with the result that his leaves had become soured. Yes, 
there is Seth also, the witling youth, of whom I shall have to 
speak hereafter, as of one whose story marks an epoch in 
my life. And there were many others I might name, a 
few of whom will come under notice again. 

There was an unusually large gathering at the Society that 
night. Hardly anyone had stayed away. I have noticed 
that the news that someone is to be disciplined is always an 
effective means of bringing the friends together. There is some- 
thing in the nature of good people similar to that in people who 
are not good, which prompts them to go and see a man being 
hanged. Will Bryan and I sat next each other in the midst or the 
children, and 1 marvelled to hi-d him so thoroughly uncon- 
cerned. The meeting was begun by Thomas Bowon, whom I 
carefully listened to for any reference he might make to myself. 
But he made none. Whilst Thomas was praying, Will 
whispered in my ear, ** If they ask us anything, let us say, like 
William the Coal, that we'll never do it again, and they are 
sure to forgive us." Will said a great many other things, but I 
was too much occupied to notice them. The verse-recitals of 
the children were taken by Abel Hughes, who, when it came to 
Will's turn and mine, passed us both by without asking us for 
ours. The storm had evidently begun, and although I held my 
head down, I knew that all were looking at me, and felt 



70 RHYS LEWIS. 

their eyes burning right through my velvet jacket. Glancing 
under my brows.. I saw Will, with head up, looking about him 
wholly unabashed. After Abel had done with the children, 
Thomas Bowen said a word in general, and then invited Hugh 
Eellisto speak. Hugh made some observations on the Sunday's 
sermons, expatiating forcibly upon the blessing he had received 
therefrom. Thomas Bowen, upon this, asked whether anyone 
else had anything to say upon the same subject. After a while 
Edward Peters got upon his feet, and remuided the brethren that 
the quarter's seat money was due. Then there was silence, and a 
consultation between Abel and Thomas Bowen. I heard the 
former say, " You do it, Thomas," to which the other replied, 
'* No, you do it, Abel." 

I see Abel, velvet cap on head, get upon his feet, looking 
serious and agitated. I would have been glad were I able to 
chronicle the words of that true and honest man just as he 
delivered them, but I cannot. I remember his saying some- 
thing of an "unpleasant circumstance," oi "children of the 
Society behaving like the children of the -w^orld," of 
" scandal brought upon the cause of religion," of the "necessity 
of enforcing church discipline," and so forth. He spoke at 
length and with severity, winding up by naming brother Bob, 
me, and Bryan, as the offenders. 

Abel having sat down, John Lloyd observed that the church 
wanted to know from its officers what had been the nature of 
the transgression. 

" Hark at the old scraper," said Will in my ear. 

Abel replied that he believed our transgression was well 
known to John Lloyd and everyone else then present, and that 
it would not be wise to repeat the circumstances. Thomas 
Bowen here rose suddenly to his feet, and said something to the 
following effect : — 

" My brethren, children will be children, and we should all re- 
member that we were children ourselves once. I am very sorry 
for this business. Abel Hughes has done quite right in calling 
attention to it, but what can we do except give these poor lads 
a word of advice ? Eemember, my brethren, I am not speaking 
of Eobert Lewis now, he is of age and sense ; but as to William 
Bryan and Ehys Lewis — they are young and innocent; and 



RHYS LEWIS. 71 

well-beliaved, decent lads they are, too. Who repeats his verse 
better than William or Ehys ? It is a great pity the boys should 
have done Trrono:. Have you anything to say William, my 
eon?" 

'* I'll never do it again," replied Will. 

**Good boy," said Thomas. "Are you sorry for what you 
did ? " "" 

"Yes," said Will, at the same time giving me a pinch in the 
leg, which made mo cry. 

'* And do you say the same thing, Ehys ? " queried Thoiias, 
adding, " but there, we have no need to ask Ehys anything, 
his face is bathed in tears already. Abel Hughes, do you hear 
what the boys say ? They are sorry for the thing, and they'll 
never do it again. What could we ourselves do better than 
repent us of our fault, and resolve not to commit such another. 
What are we to do with the boys, Abel Hughes ?" 

" Do what you like with them," replied Abel savagely. 

*' Well, brethren," said Thomas, " we caunot do better with 
these boys than give tnem a word of advice and send them 
away, inasmuch as we have another and weightier matter to 
attend to." 

Thomas Bowen having given us a kindly word of advice, told 
us to go home like good children. No sooner had he spoken 
than the youngsters rushed out for the fastest. I had just 
passed the doorway when Will Bryan caught me by the arm, 
and gave me a '* right wheel " down the side of the chapel. I 
felt offended with him, and asked him why he had pinched me 
so sorely in the chapel ? 

"To make you cry, you silly," he replied. "I knew very 
well you hadn't a word to say for yourself; so crying did the 
job, you see. Didn't I tell you they would let us off? But we 
must find out what becomes of Bob." 

In the side wall of the old place of worship was a door open- 
ing upon the steps which led to the gallery, through which 
Margaret of the chapel-house used to .enter for the purpose of 
opening and shutting up the building, and which was conse- 
quently not locked on this night. I divined Will's purpose 
instantly, but nothing was left me but to follow him, for he had 
some strang-e influence over me which I could not witustand* 



72 RHYS LEWIS. 



Will softly opened the door, and closed it in the same manner. 
In the darkness he whispered, " take off your clogs, and put 
them there on that side ; I'll place mine on this, so that we 
shan't make any mistake when we come down." I did so, and 
heard Will say, " Now up we go as soft as mice." And up we 
went, on all fours, Will leading the way, until we reached his 
favourite spot, the clock pew. There we sat out the whole 
hearing of Bob's case; and I could, I think, repeat the plead- 
ings almost word for word. But to what purpose? The 
occasion is too painful for me to linger long over it. Words 
were spoken there sharp as sword- thrusts, particularly by John 
Lloyd, with whom I grew furious, because, let Bob's offence be 
what it might, I knew him to be a hundred thousand times a 
better man than Lloyd. Bob might have been wrong in setting 
upon the old Soldier as he did, but he did it in order to prevent 
a greater wrong to me; and I knew him to have so large and 
feeling a heart that he would sacrifice his life, not for me alone, 
but for any one whom he saw being wronged. As for John Lloyd, 
he had a love for nothing but money, and had a heart no bigger 
than a spiders. And yet this was the man who slavered his 
dirtiest over Bob that night! I am afraid I have never iorgiven 
him, believing, as I do, it was his insulting words that made 
Bob so stiff-necked. I knew my brother could have borne the 
sharp, stern reproof of Abel Hughes, and that Thomas Bowen's 
loving expostulation would have soothed the wounded heart of 
him, but the poisoned darts of a narrow-minded hypocrite like 
this made him hardened and obstinate; and we heard him pro- 
testing before them all that he had nothing to repent of. 

Never shall I forget that half hour in the clock pew. I was 
annoyed with Bryan for his unseemly behaviour. While Bob's 
cause was being argued, Will was cutting his name with his 
pocket kcife on the seat, and passing remarks on the various 
speakers; doing so, too, in such a loud tone of voice that I con- 
stantly found myself begging him to be quiet, for fear we 
should be discovered. I felt so much for Bob that I could not 
help crying, observing which, my companion asked sarcastically 
whether I had the toothache. It appears strange to me now 
that my impressions of several people in that 8ociet.v 
wherein I was brought up, should have been formed whilst I 



RBYS LEWIS. 75 



eat in the clock pew. I had seen, for some time, what the end 
of the business was going to he, and fell to thinking of the 
dreadful blow it would give my mother, who had never dreamt 
that Bob would be excommunicated. But nothing else could 
happen, with Bob declaring he would do the same thing again 
under the same circumstances. Will Bryan, whilst occupied in 
the work of carving his name on the seat, observed several timee 
that Bob was " missing it." *' If he only did like William the 
Coal," he continued, " put the blame on Satan, and say he'd 
never do it again, it would be all right; but if he goes on like 
that, he is sure to get the kick out." For all his light-headed- 
ness, before a few minutes were over "Will proved himself a true 
prophet. Thomas Bowen did his best to get Bob to admit that 
he had been to blame, but could not succeed. Abel Hughes did 
the same, with the like result. The officers of the church were 
bound to do their duty. Abel Hughes got up to take the vote 
of excommunication. The old man's voice trembled, and the 
words stuck in his throat, as he did so. The usual si^n of 
assent was given, and Bob was no longer a member with the 
Calvinistic Methodists. Almost simultaneously Abel sank to 
his knees, and in prayer prayed, if man ever prayed in his life. 
X have wondered hundreds of times that the supplication on 
Bob's behalf was never answered. 

Would the Church have excommunicated Bob had it known 
the consequences of the act ? I hardly think so. 



CHAPTER XII. 

ox THE HEaUIH. 

Whatever other gifts I may be deficient in— and they arc 
many — I fancy I have cause to be thankful for a good memory. 
Indeed, I would not have begun this autobiography had I not 
been conscious beforehand that its writing, in my hours of 
ease, would be of greater pleasure than of labour to me. In 
turning up one circumstance after another in my history, I find 
each with its family and relatives rising again in living form 
before my mind. Similarly, when looking over an old packet 



74 RHYS LEWIS. 



of letters, every letter has its unwritten associations, here and 
there a letter making one think of others which have been 
reduced to ashes by fire, but which cannot be burnt out of 
the memory. Some are read with a sense of satisfaction, others 
bring painful recollections, others stir up our whole nature, 
awaking feelings and ideas we had thought lost for ever, but 
which had lived on, hidden away in the caverns of the mind 
and the crannies of the memory. 

Although I register the night of brother Bob's excommunica- 
tion among the dark nights of my life, it is not without its 
bright side. The occurrence made me meditate seriously upon 
the nature of religion, and what it was which constituted the 
importance and sacredness of church membarship. I already 
had some sort of notion that there was a great difference 
between religious people and "people of the world," as my 
mother called them ; but I am afraid it came to no 
more than this— that the former partook of the Lord's Supper 
once a month, did not get drunk, or curse and swear, and that 
the latter, not belonging to the Society, were at liberty to 
commit any sin they chose. But somehow, that night, I got 
to doubt this view, and began to think that something more 
than the one 1 have named went to make up the difference. 
Without being able to bring mj'self to believe that he would, 
I asked myself would Bob, now that he was no longer a church 
member, get drunk occasionally ? Would he curse and swear, 
now and again ? Would he give over reading the Bible and other 
good books, and kick up a row in the house like Peter the pot- 
ter ? I questioned, also, whether Bob, out of the bociety, 
would be a worse or more wretched creature than John Lloyd 
in it. That, too, was quite as impossible, to my mind. 
What was it, then, which made a man religious ? The occur- 
rence, moreover, made me form a high opinion of my mother's 
piety. Possibly it was the conversation which ensued between 
her and brother Bob which caused me thus to regard her. I 
will try and reproduce this conversation as accurately as my 
memory will serve. Of course mother did not know I had 
heard the whole of the inquiry into Bob's case, and it wouldn't 
have been well had she found out that I and Will Bryan had 
stowed ourselves away in the chapel-loft. When all went in a 



RHYS LEWIS. 75 



body to chapel, the last to leave the house would hide the door- 
key under the water-tub, so that the first to return might gain 
a speedy entrance to our castle. That was one of the family 
secrets. As it was I who, of necessity, must be first home on this 
night, I hurried along and just managed to be for a couple of 
minutes seated before mother came .in. Although nearly out of 
breath, I endeavoured to appear as if I had been expecting 
her for some time. I told her she had been very long coming. 
*' Every wait is a long one," was all her reply, made as she 
hung her blue cloak and great bonnet on the nail behind the 
door. Bob mus'" have taken a turn with his companions after 
leaving the Society, because supper had been some time pre- 
pared before he came in. After long waiting, he made his 
appearance, looking sad and dispirited. He sat down without 
a word, and took up a book to read. It was not without much 
coaxing that he came up to the supper- table, and I speedily saw 
that neither he nor mother made much impression upon the 
food. Having had a great load taken off my mind, so far as 
the discipline of the church concerned me personally, and 
reflecting that it would be a pity such good provision should go 
to waste, I did my best to put as much of it out of sight as I 
could. Supper over, Bob again took up his book, and mother 
drew her chair nearer the fire. I knew from her manner that 
she meant to start a conversation. She had a habit, when 
gathering her thoughts together, of pleating her apron. 

" Well, my boy," she presently said, " this has been rather 
a bad night in your and my history. Poor as I am, I would 
rather than a hundred pounds if what took place to-night 
hadn't happened." 

Bob, who spoke a little more grammatically than mother, 
said in reply : — 

" I do not see, mother, why you should look at the matter in 
that light. It will make no difference in my conduct. Being 
in the Society does not guarantee a man's salvation, nor being 
out of it his perdition." 

"Ehys," said mother, turning to me, ''vou had better go to 
bed." 



76 RHYS LEWIS. 

*' Directly," said I, laying my head upon the table, and pre- 
tending to sleep. I am not sure I did not snore. Such a sly 
young fox was I ! My behaviour threw both off their guard. 

** Bob," resumed my mother, "I trust you do not mean what 
you say. You have been saying so many things of late, since 
you've taken to coddle with these old English books, that it's 
difficult for me to think you do." 

"Mother," said Bob, whom I heard putting his book down, 
*' you know very well there is no deceit in me, and that nothing 
in the world is so hateful to me as hypocrisy. I, a thousand 
times, prefer being expelled from the church for telling the truth, 
to being suffered to remain in it by showing myself mealy- 
mouthed, and speaking the thing I neither believe nor feel. I 
know my excommunication must be a sad blow to you, mother, 
and for that I am sorry ; but the church having chosen so to 
deal with me, I have nothing in the world to say." 

" What! my son," exclaimed my mother. *' Do you set no 
store by church membership ? " 

" I do not," was the reply, " if I must buy that membership 
by double-dealing. You have never yet heard me talk about 
myself or complaining, but you know very well that neither my 
father nor you once thought of giving me a day's schooling. I 
was allowed to grow up ignorant of all things save those of the 
Bible. I was sent into the mine at an age when I ought to have 
been at school, and I was an experienced collier before I was 
sixteen. Directly I became sensible of my want of education, 
in my spare hours I set myself, with all my energy, to learn 
English, and that without help from any living soul, and with 
you constantly complaining that I wasted the candles. To say 
the least, I have been as faithful at chapel as any of my own 
age. I have been a teacher in the Sunday School since I was 
seventeen. I am not praising myself, but you know that since 
the bother with my father, I have worked hard, and done my 
best to keep a home for you and Ehys ; and what would have 
become of you had I gone away ? You know I never in my 
life spent a penny in dissipation, and that all the money I could 
Bcrape together was devoted either to buying books or sub- 
scribing towards the church. Besides this, I have endeavoured, 



RBYS LEWIS. 77 

for years, to impart to my brother all the knowledge I possessed, 
80 that he, if possible, might become something better than the 
poor collier I am myself. Seeing that brother oppressed and 
beaten most unmercifully, I did what anyone with a grain of 
humanity in his composition would have done— I rushed on the 
oppressor and rescued the oppressed, as David did the lamb from 
the lion's jaws. But this, in the Society's sight, was a great 
sin, especially in that of some of the members, who, doubtless, 
must feel very happy now that they are rid of a depraved 
creature like me." 

"Do you know what?" said mother, "your words have 
much the sound of self-righteousness. You make me ihink of 
that man who began the prayer meeting in the temple of old. 
Tou have his tinkle about you, to a T. There is as little of the 
publican ring in your voice, now you are at home, as there was 
in it in the Society. "What has come over you, tell me ? You have 
shown a wonderful stiffness of late. Pray for grace, my son ; pray 
that you may feel the rope, and see your filthy rags. Brought 
before your betters at the Quarter Sessions it would be all right 
to talk of your virtues ; in the Society before the Great Judge, 
the less you speak of them the better, save by the names 
wherewith Paul baptized them — " dung and loss." Do you 
know, Bob, I have suspected for some time that there were 
notions forming in your heart which you never found in the 
Bible ; and that has cost me many a sleepless night." 

"You, mother, know me best, of all people," said Bob 
feelingly, "and I must be bad indeed, when my own mother 
can entertain so poor an opinion of me. I, no doubt, am the 
biggest scamp in the neighbourhood. Well, be it so." 

" Xo, my son, not so, either," said mother. "As a good 
son to his mother, there isn't your superior in the six counties. 
I never had any trouble with you in that way, and I am very 
thankful to you and the Great King for your kindness in 
working so hard to keep a home for your mother and brother. 
It is of your soul I am speaking now. It matters little whether 
I have a crjst or not; but it matters everything, my darling 
boy, that your soul and mine should be under the dispensation 
of the Spirit of God. Blessed be His name. He never gives me 
rest, and I believe He means to make something of me. that 



78 RBYS LEWIS. 



I had room to think He spoke also unto you ! To see you so 
little affepted by your excomniunication breaks nay heart, my 
poor boy. Without are the dogs— without are the tempest and 
the storm. You have gone out from the circle of the covenant 
and the intercession ; you have lost the shelter, my dear Bob." 

"It was the church that decided whether it was within or 
without I should be; it was the church that repudiated me, 
not me the church," replied Bob. 

"No, my son," rejoined my mother. *'Ir was your own 
doing entirely, and you ought to be ashamed of it. It was 
your refusal to repent and admit your sin which made the 
church expel you. How often to-night, did Thomas Bowen 
beg, and you decline, to own your fault and ask forgiveness ? 
No, to the church your excommunication was a very painful 
matter; but what else could you look for if you did not repent ? 
It is useless your expecting forgiveness of God or man without 
repentance." 

"I can't fall in with the opinions of old-fashioned people, 
when my own run counter to them," said Bob. "What 
do you think Mr. Brown, the clergyman, said to me to-day, 
when I mentioned the matter to him ? Why, he laughed at the 
whole thing, and expressed a hope that the licking I gave the 
old Soldier would do him good." 

" Bob ! " cried mother, not a little warmed, " don't you talk 
of the great doctrines of the Gospel as old-fashioned, in my 
hearing, it's best for you." 

" I did not do so," observed Bob. 

"You did something very much like it," returned mother. 
*' Eepentance, you'll find, is a fashion you will have to ' fall in ' 
with, or you'll never enter into the Life. It is a fashion, Bob, 
that has made thousands conquerors to all eternity. But 
I'll tell you when it will become an oJd fashion: when the 
summer hath ended, and the harvest of the soul shall have gone 
by. Many will be found turning to the old fashion when it is 
too late. Pray, my son, lest you be one of them. As to Mr. 
Brown, I don't think much of him. A nice one he is to guide 
our youth. If I wanted something for my soul's good I'd never 
go to him, for, most likely, I should find him out in the fields 
a-rabbit shooting. Every respect to Mr. Brown as a good 



I^HYS LEWIS. 79 



neighbour, but ^vell \ras it said, by Thomas of Nant, of him and 
his sort. Although Thomas was not all that he should be, still 
he hit it off at times fairly well : — 

' Praised and reverenced, worthily, 
O'er all men the priest we see ; 
But none more accursed than he, 
If God-guided he not be,' * 

Would that Mr. Brown had half the spirit of the old Yicar of 
Llandovery. This is what the Yicar would have said to you, if 
I remember rightly : — 

' Eepent. sinner, while you may. 
Thou wilt harden with delay ; 
Lest thine heart should hardened be, 
Here and now, I repent thee. 
To the faithful and repentant, 
God is ever gracious, constant; 
To the odious, stubborn, perverse, 
God a cruel is and fierce.' * 

And your conscience knows whether it is Mr. Brown or the old 
Yicar who is in the right." 

" ' Every respect,' to use your own words, to the old Yicar," 
returned Bob: "but I do not believe that God is 'fierce and 
cruel * at any time, much less towards me for what I did to the 
old Soldier. The Bible teaches me that ' God is Love.' " 

" What I " cried my mother. " You are surely not going to 
contradict the good old Yicar, who knew his Bible a thousand 
times better than you do, hundreds of years before you were 
born ? You never spoke a truer word than that ' God is Love.' 
But for that, good-bye to the life eternal and election by grace, 
as I heard Mr. 'Lias say on the Green at Bala— blessed be his 
memory I Y^'ho could speak better— better, indeed, who, a 
quarter as well as Mr. 'Lias— of 

' The love we see to-day 
All other love out-weiirh.' 



• For the benefit of the purely English refxder, let me mention that these 
renderings are as near the originals in rhyme as they are in reason. — 

TliAXSLATOll 



So RBYS LEWIS. 



But had you heard him hold forth God's justice and wrath 
towards the wicked, it would have made your hair stand on end. 
If you are going to cherish notions of that kind, Bob, I'd as lief 
have Wesley as you, every bit. No, my son, the vicar is quite 
right — God is ever displeased with the ungodly, and that you 
know, better than I can tell you." 

** I have neither the spirit nor the desire for a discussion with 
you, mother," remarked Bob. 

" I'm not so sure about that," replied mother. " More's the 
pity, it is only too much spirit, by a good deal, you have got as 
a rule. I had some secret hope it was a fit of obstinacy that had 
come over you in the Society, and that your heart was better 
than your tongue after all. But I see I've been mistaken, 
and I see, moreover, I've been to blame for not having long 
ago remonstrated with you upon your condition. I have 
nothing now left but to pray, my son, that God's Spirit shall 
visit your soul. Well," she added, with a sigh, "there is 
greater need now, than at any time I can think of, for a revival 
of religion that will bring the proud spirit of people down and 
the people themselves to their religious duty." 

" When He cometh," said Bob, "He will have much more to 
do than that. He will have a great heap of miserliness and 
niggardliness— which now pass under the name of economy — 
to clean out of the churches. Hypocrisy, narrow-mindedness, 
want of Christian charity — now designated sanctity, exactitude, 
and zeal for church discipline— will come under the same dis- 
guises then as they did to meet me to-night. But on that day— if 
ever it arrive— it will be revealed that some of those folk who 
clamoured loudest for my expulsion, are cankered and rotten 
with worldliness and filthy lucre, that they sell Jesus Christ 
for thirty pieces of silver every day they get up out of bed. 
When that visitation comes, of which you speak, I shall expect 
to find myself amongst a numerous company which I shall be 
ashamed to recognise." 

" You leave out one thing," said my mother. " On that day 
everybody will have his hand upon his own heart-plague— not 
picking out the motes in other people, and indulging in his 
own self-justification. Peter, look you, did not think of 
pointing to Judas's betrayal as a reason why he should not 



RHYS LEI VIS. 8 1 



repent for his denial. No, he went out and vrept bitterly, and 
I would like to see a little of the same spirit in you, my son." 

And at this stage mother began to cry, a proceeding which, 
as 1 have already observed, had at all times the effect of putting 
an end to the argument on Bob's part. 

Having given full vent to her feelings, mother caught me 
by the collar and shook me sharply, little thinking I had beeu 
wide awake the whole time— a fact of wh.ich. she never became 
aware. After going to bed, I mused a great deal over what I 
had heard, especially the references to my father. But that 
night passed like every other. Mother's appeals had not much 
effect on Bob. After his excommunication it was seldom he 
spoke of rehgious matters, or of the chapel, although he 
continued his attendance. In the house he kept very quiet, 
almost always reading, and never ceasing to impart all the 
knowledge he was possessed of to me. What would I give to- 
night had I nothing more unpleasant to relate of him ? 



CHAPTER XTTT. 

SETH. 

As intimated, I must say something about the witling youth, 
Seth, whose acquaintance marks an epoch in my history. A re- 
markable character was Seth. I do not recollect when I first 
got to know him. I have drained my memory without obtaining 
from it anything but— Seth, the same in stature, appearance, 
age, and disposition always. If someone asked me when did I 
first see the crab tree near our house, and could I tell the different 
changes that had taken place in the form of its branches, I 
should be obliged to answer in the negative. The one particular 
incident 1 Remember in its history is, that the owner of the Hall 
ordered it to be cut down. And when the hard-hearted wood- 
man applied his axe to its roots, making the chips fly, and the 
tree came tumbling down to earth, I felt as if I had lost a 
<lear old friend. It furnished me, now and then, with a crab, 
which, though it set my teeth on edge iu the eating, was sweet 
F 



82 RHYS LEWIS. 



in the absence of something better. This is about all the notion 
I can form of the size and history of that crab tree up to the 
day it was cut down. It is much the same with regard to Seth. 
Up to the time of his death his history presents but one period, 
with nothing in it but Seth: a fresh-complexioned youth, 
inclined to be tall, thin, and bony, with a slight stoop of 
the shoulders, a little bit of a chin which almost lost itself in 
the neck, a mouth nearly always half open, small, blue, mean- 
ingless, if rather merry eyes, a somewhat irregular nose, a fore- 
head retreating almost into line with the crown, which was 
high, narrow, and jutted out over the long nape. 

Siniple, harmless folk were his parents, who lived in a cosy 
little cottage a little way out of the town. Thomas Bartley, the 
father, was by trade a shoemaker, or, more strictly speaking, a 
cobbler, for he never made shoes. Neither he nor his wife, 
Barbara, was reckoned to belong to the class of knowing ones. 
Indeed, both were usually looked upon as not being altogether 
square-headed; consequently— Seth. Neither knew a sin^lo 
letter of the alphabet ; neither ever went to Church or chapel, 
except once a year, on the day of harvest thanksgiving. I 
heard Thomas, more than once, say that in his younger days 
he attended Sunday School regularly for four or five years, and 
he believed that, had he stuck to it a few years longer, he would 
have mastered the A. B. 0. I heard him boast, also, that he had 
several times been to hear John Eiias, Williams of Worn, and 
Christmas Evans ; but when asked what sort of preachers they 
were, his unvarying answer was : *' Save us ! they were rough 
uns— awful rough ! " These two old fogies, Thomas and 
Barbara Bartley, were wondrously innocent and happy. 
Thomas's besetting sin was a tendency to take God's name in 
vain, although, one might fancy, it was not from any want of 
reverence that he did it. He would not for a great deal, have 
done any work on the Sabbath, and would not have expected a 
blessing had he been guilty of such a thing. But he saw no 
harm in spending hours every Sunday, with his pipe in his 
mouth, watching the pig feed, and calculating how long it 
would take to become fit for the knife, what it would weigh, 
would it be advisable to make black puddings and brawn, 
should he keep or sell the ofi'al, to which of his neighbours wa* 



RHYS LEWIS. Z^ 



he under obligation to send a bit of spare-rib, and so forth. 
Thomas thought it no harm in the least that he and Barbara 
should spend the Sabbath talking of things like these, but he 
\rouldn't for the ^rorld have ^rorn his leather apron an hour on 
that day. My brother Bob \ras very fond of taking his shoes to 
be mended to Thomas Bartley, for the sake of drawing the old 
man out ; and I have seen him laugh till the tears came when 
relating to my mother the queer notions he had learned during 
some of these visits. Mother was frequently troubled with 
rheumatism, and I remember she had a bad attack on one 
occasion just as Bob had returned from a visit to Thomas. Bob 
told the following story as one of the old shoemaker's latest, and 
although my mother was never, at any time, fond of fun, she 
could not repress a smile at the natural way in which Bob 
mimicked old Bartley's method of speaking. 

" How's your mother, Bob ? " asked Thomas. 

"Yerybad, Thomas Bartley," replied Bob. " Suflfers very 
much from the rheumatis, you know ; sleeps very little from 
the pain." 

" save us ! Save us ! " said Thomas. "D'ye know, Bob, 

I don't und'stand that Great King, look you ; don't und'stand 
Him, at all. A woman like your mother, who never did any- 
thing in the world ageiist Him, to be plagued like that always, 
always. Don't und'stand Him, 'deed to you." 

" You think too highly of my m.other, Thomas Bartley," 
remarked Bob. " She finds fault with herself very often, and 
fears every day she will not be saved in the end." 

*'Not saved in the end! "What's the matter with the 
woman ? I never in my life heard anything wrong of her; did 
you, Barbara? " 

*' Not I, name o' goodness," said Barbara. 

*' Of course not," said Thomas, "and nobody else, either. 
But look here, Bob, you're a scholar, and Barbara and I have 
often thought of asking you, only we always forget — Does'nt 
the Book say there'll be a lot of us saved at the last ?" 

" It speaks of a great multitude which no man can number," 
replied Bob. 

" To be shwar ! Did'nt I tell you, Barbara ? The talk these 
ignorant people make ! It's my belief, look you, Bob, if we are 



84 RHYS LEWIS. 



honest and pay our way, and live somethin' near the mark, we 
shall all be saved. Don't you want soles as well as heels for 
these ? They're beginning to go, you know ; better have them 
vamped too." 

Many similar things did I hear Bob relate. But it is of Seth 
I was speaking. I have often heard of people who have been so 
unfortunate as to come into the world non compos 'mentis, as the 
saying is, that they have in them some craft and cunning 
beyond other people. But there was nothing of this in Seth. 
I believe him to have been perfectly harmless, and I know he 
had a heart of wondrous love and tenderness. Whatever was 
asked of him he would do, if it were in his power, and every- 
thing he had was shared with someone else. To me, his heart 
seemed always in the right place ; but, poor fellow, his head was 
always wrong. Of a truth, he was in sense but a child, although 
in size a man. "Whatever thoughts might have flitted through 
his brain, his power of expressing them was of the poorest ; 
his talk was childish, and his words were few. Everybody in the 
neighbourhood knew Seth and respected him, on account of his 
affliction, presumably. Even all the dogs, in town and country, 
knew Seth, and wagged their tails at him. Seth never passed 
one of them without patting its head, and giving the creature, 
alter his own fashion, the heartiest greeting. Now I think of 
it, he had one special gift— that of remembering the names of 
dogs, horses, and other animals. He did not spend much time 
at home. Somehow he was happier everywhere than in the 
house of his father and mother. Did I happen to rise early, I 
would be sure of seeing Seth. Did I stay out late, Seth would 
cross my path at some point. Was there anything on in the 
town, one of the first I would see at it was Seth. Did a house 
take fire, or a haystack, there was Seth also. At every 
preaching meeting, concert, and lecture, Seth made oae of the 
congregation ; he was free of every place, asked for a ticket by 
no denomination or sect. 

iHe attended all the services at our chapel regularly, listening 
attentively to every word, although nobody imagined he under- 
stood the least bit of what was said. I have reason, by now, to 
doubt the accuracy of the general verdict. I remember many 
times watching his countenance while the minister was speaking, 



RHYS LEWIS. 



and seeing a gleam of intellieent enjoyment steal across it. 
The gleam was but a transient one, it is true, and on vanishing 
left the face vacant and expressionless as before, but it gave the 
countenance an appearance sufficiently differing from the 
ordinary one to attract my attention. When asked what the 
preacher had been saying, he could remember, or at any rate, 
could reproduce, nothing but the name Jesus Christ. There is 
reason to believe that he thought highly of every preacher, for 
nothing gave him greater pleasure than the holding of a 
preacher's horse, or showing him where the chapel was. When 
either of these things fell to his lot, he would relate the 
circumstance to his companions with great gusto. Although 
Seth, as I have remarked, was in age and size a man, his 
associates were children always. 

He came to the Children's Society regularly, and repeat- i 
his verse as the children did. It was the one verse always : 
''Jesus Christ the same yesterday and to-day, and for ever." 
Mother, myself, and others tried in vain to find out who had 
taught it him. It was as if the words had grown up with him, 
and so filled his mind that there was no room for any other. It 
being the same verse he was always repeating, Abel Hughes, I 
remember, passed him by on one occasion in the Soci-ty with- 
out asking him for his verse, seeing which Seth broke out into 
bitter lamentations, and would not be comforted. We, children, 
being very fond of Seth, the greater part of us joined him in the 
crying ; I, as I remember well enough, was tear-shedding at a 
particularly beautiful rate, for it did not take much, at anv 
time, to make me cry. Although Abel, as I have already said, 
was a determined, self-possessed man, I never saw him in such 
a fix. He pulled the strangest faces, and could not, for the life 
of him, utter a word. Presently he attempted to soothe Seth"s 
grief, but in vain. I knew Abel felt sore for what he had done, 
and as some sort of atonement for it, he rewarded Seth next 
day with a hymn book, to the complete healing of the latters 
wounds. That hymn book was the only thing I knew Seth 
refuse to share with another. Nothing would have bought it 
of him ; he carried it to every service, opening it towards the 
middle during the singing, and almost always holding it upside 
down. Seth had noticed that some kind folk would show their 



86 RHYS LEWIS. 



page to those near them who had not caught the number of the 
hymn ; so he, on the slightest sign of hesitation in anyone, 
■would go straight up and show his open book, as if he were 
quite sure of the place. 

Seth behaved very strangely at times in chapel, and in a manner 
which must have been trying to a strange preacher. The con- 
gregation, being well used to it, did not notice him. He would 
rise up suddenly, put his foot upon the bench in front of him, rest 
his right elbow upon his kuee, and, chin in hand, would 
never take eyes off the preacher. Seeing Will Bryan, and my- 
self, and others taking down the text and the heads of sermon, 
he would now and again show a great desire to imitate us ; and 
some wag or other having furnished him with a large square of 
white paper and a long stick of pencil, there would Seth be seen 
holding the paper in his right hand, and the pencil in his left, 
waiting, with anxious face, for the preacher to give out the text, 
when, full of business, he would scribble his sheet with the 
strangest characters ever seen. But he soon tired of this work, 
and returned to his old form of an unbroken stare into the eyes 
of the preacher. Eemembering his demeanour, and also that he 
at all times sat right opposite the minister, I have wondered 
that he did not upset the gravity of more than one of our 
visitants. Seth possessed something very much like the spirit 
of worship. I heard Margaret of the chapel-house relate that 
she generally found him waiting her to open the door, and that 
directly she had put the place to rights, and turned her 
back, he would walk into the Big Seat, take up the Bible, and 
utter a low peculiar sound, as if reading. He would then go 
upon his knees, and say no end of things, nobody knew what, 
even if he knew himself. As soon, however, as some one put 
in an appearance, Seth would desist, and softh^ direct his steps 
to his accustomed seat. 

Seth and I were great friends ; not because we were of like 
minds, I trust. At times, when mother refused to let me 
out to play, I used to see Seth lingering about the house, for 
hours at a stretch, awaiting my release. I do not know what made 
him take so much to me, but sure I am, it always distressed 
him greatly to see me put upon by some of the other boys. 
Remembering his delicate health, I am ashamed to think how 



RHYS LEWIS. 87 



often lie was horse for me. Altogether, I am certain he must 
have carried me scores of miles, and that quite uncom- 
plainingly. Given a halfpenny or a penny, which happened 
frequently, he never failed to consult me as to what he should 
do with it, my invariable advice being— spend it. But I must 
hasten on, inasmuch as I have something more important to say 
regarding my connection with the lad. 

I noticed one day that Seth looked very ill, coughed badly, 
and cared nothing for the play ; although he made no complaint. 
Indeed, I never did hear him complaining. Next day Seth did 
not leave the house. The day after, I went to look for him, 
and found him in bed. On my entrance into his room, he 
looked wildly at me; then, his countenance brightening, he 
held out his hand, and cried " Rhys ! " A few minutes later he 
lost ail recollection of me, and began calling me by strange 
names. He talked on incessantly, but I could not make sense 
of anything he said. In vain did his mother try to keep him 
quiet. He sat up in bed, and pointed with his finger to 
an empty corner of the room, as if he were seeing something 
there, he could not tell us what. His look frightened me ; an'd 
with a heart almost breaking with sympathy for him, I slid 
qu.etly down the stairs. In the kitchen I found Thomas 
Bartley, pacing to and fro, in heavy grief. The first thing 
he asked me was, did Seth recognise me. My decisive answer 
cheered him greatly. Presently, however, his sorrow returned, 
and he observed, " The doctor says he's got the fever, Ehys ! 
Save us ! Save us I Ask your mother, my lad, to pray a bit 
for him. Save us ! What if I was to lose him ! " 

Had Seth been the greatest genius in the world, his parents 
could not have been more concerned about him. My friend 
continued in the same state for days. I visited him daily — 
sometimes twice a day. Will Bryan and I were all of his old 
companions who were adn.itted to his room. It was seldom 
he recognise i us. I forget whether it was the eighth or th.e 
ninth day of his illness that Will Bryan came to our house late 
at night with the news that Seth had " altered," and that he 
was calling for me. Although it was nearly bed- time, I got my 
mother's permission to go and see him. On the way, Will said 
to me, "1 fear, look you, that Seth is going to clear out;" 



88 RHYS LEWIS. 



by which he meant that Seth was on the point of death. 
Although speaking in this manner, Will was perfectly serious. 
When we reached the house, Thomas Bartley gave us cheerful 
greeting, and told us Seth was much better. My heart leaped 
with joy at hearing this. We went softly up the stairs. Old 
Barbara and a female neighbour were sitting by the bedside, 
looking secretly pleased. 

*' He has been asking for you for some time," said the neigh- 
bour to Will and me. 

Seth lay perfectly still, with a cheerful smile upon his face, 
which also wore a look of strange beauty. One who did not 
know him would, as far as appearances went, have said he was 
perfectly intelligent. Will and I were struck dumb nearly at 
seeing him so little like his old self. I should have mentionel 
that Seth always spoke of himself in the third person. For 
example, when going anywhere, he would not say '* I am 
going," but "Seth is going to such and such a place." And so, 
in every circumstance, he would speak of himself as if he were 
some one else. We, his com pai, ions, had adopted the same 
style of speech in conversation with him. After Will and I had 
entered the room, Seth, holding out a thin white hand to us, 
and greeting each by name, requested his mother and the 
neighbour to go down into the kitchen, which they immediately 
did. When we had the apartment to ourselves, I bent over him 
and said, " Seth is better." 

" Yes, Seth is better," he faltered. 

*' Does Seth want to say anything to Bhys ? " I asked. 

He gave me a cheerful, bright, intelligent look, which re- 
minded me of one of those gleams I have spoken of as 
occasionally stealing across his countenance in chapel. Then he 
repeated the verse I had heard hundreds of times upon his lips 
m the Children's Society: "Jesus Christ the same yester- 
day, to-day, and for ever." There was something in the recital 
which made me think it came, not from the tongue, but straight 
from the heart. He continued to gaze at me as if he expected 
to be asked something else. I did not know what to say to him. 
Presently I murmured, " Seth'll get better directly." 

"No," said he, "Seth 'ont get better. Seth never agen play 
with Rhys. Seth go to Abel's chapel no more. Seth's goin* 



^//VS LEWIS. Z^ 



aTvay, far away, to— to," and he pointed with his finger up- 
wards, as if he could not find the proper word. 

"Heaven."' suggested I, but that was not the word lie was 
seeking, for he presently gave the sentence in its entirety : 

" Seth's going away, far, far, to the great chapel of Jesus 
Christ." 

That was poor Seth's idea of Heaven — " the great chapel of 
Jesus Christ." I liad for some time noticed that Will Bryan, who 
stood behind me, was breathing in short gasps, as though he had 
caught a cold. In school I had seen the old Soldier break his 
cane to pieces over Will's back without as much as a tear or a 
cry from him ; but this hearing of our innocent old companion, 
Seth, talk of dying, and of going afar, was more than Will could 
stand ; and, to use his own expression, he "cleared out" down 
the stairs, leaving me alone with Seth. When Will had gone. 
Seth looked about him, and seeing that 2:0 one but he and I 
were present, said : — 

" Pihys'U pray." 

I understood the request at once, but did not know what to 
do. I had thought that no one should pray with the sick but a 
preacher. He re-iterated, with greater earnestness of look: — 

" Ehys'll pray." 

I could not refuse. I was glad by this time that Will had 
gone away, fearing he might jeer at me for it afterwards. I fell 
on my knees by the bedside, and prayed as best I could. I do 
not now remember what were the words I used, but I know I 
asked Jesus Christ to make Seth well again, after which I got 
into a mist, and had to fall back upon the Lord's Prayer. 
When a.sking Christ to restore my friend to health, I knew the 
prayer came from the bottom of my heart. At this juncture I felt 
Seth's thin light hand resting upon my head. He kept it there 
while I was repeating the Paternoster. I waited a little to see 
if he would take it away, but he did not. It got to weigh more 
and more heavily upon me, and grew cold, cold, sending 
a strange indescribable shiver through my very soul. I gently 
removed the hand, and, trembling in every limb, rose to my feet. 
Seth's eyes were wide open, and had in them a far-away look, 
I thought. I spoke to him, but he made no reply ; I called 
him by name, but he was at too great a distance to hear. 



90 RHYS LEWIS. 



Before me was but an empty tenement, clean and bright 
though the windows were. His harmless— 1 had almost said 
sinless— soul had taken flight, to use his own words, "far away, 
to the great cliapel of Jesus Christ." 

When I realised the fact that he was dead, I set up a great 
loud cry, and, next minute, his mother and the neighbour were 
by my side. I shall not try to describe the scene, although 
it was one I can never forget. It would be cruel to attempt a 
picture of the wild uncontrollable grief of parents who had 
strength neither of mind nor of religion to sustain them under 
so severe a trial. I hastened home with a heavy heart. It was 
a goodish distance from Seth's house to ours, and I was obliged 
to traverse it alone. Will Bryan having left some time before 
me. It was a bright moonlight night, the sky being cloud- 
less, and the shining stars appearing sunk into immense 
distance. I fancied the moon to be gazing steadfastly at me, 
and the stars beckoning ceaselessly upwards. The more I 
looked at them, the harder they seemed to look at me. I asked 
myself had Seth gone past them yet, or was he only on his way 
thither ? How long would it take him to get to heaven, and 
would he reach there before I reached home ? together with a 
host of similar questions. It appears strange to me, by this 
time, that something should have got into my head that night 
that I was to become a preacher. Whence the thought came, 
or who sent it, I know not; but 1 date from that night my 
desire to become a preacher. Was it the hand of witling Seth 
upon my head at the moment he was hanging between both 
worlds that lirst consecrated me for the work 't My sermons 
are sorry enough, so often, that many people would believe me 
if I said that such was the case. 

But I am digressing. I had two or thiee iieids to cross on 
my way home. My path, too, skirted the Hall park. Although 
fairly brave, considering I was but a stripling, I must confess 
I was not without my fears on that night. I hurried along, 
however, using every eflfort to keep my spirit up. When I got 
to the wood, I saw something in human shape sitting on the 
hedge, right by the side of the path I was to take. I started, 
and my heart be^an to beat so violently that I could fancy I 
not only felt, but heard its throbbings. It was late at night, 



RHYS LEWIS. 91 



aud it required as mucli nerve to retreat as to advance. 
Summoning up all the courage I possessed, I advanced at a 
rapid rate. On nearing the man, I found he had a gun in 
his hand, and concluded that he was the game-keeper at the 
Hall, whom I knew well. All my fears vanished on the instant. 
The moon was by this time behind the wood, so that I could 
not see things clearly. When within a few yards of the man, I 
said, in a loud voice, "Good night, Mr. Jones." I was 
answered in harsh, unpleasant tones. 

" Wait a bit, Ehys Lewis ! Don't walk quite so fast, for fear 
you might drop across some of your relations." 

I stood stock still, and saw it was not Mr. Jones, but some 
one else, who carried an old-fashioned double-barrelled gun. 

"Don't be afraid," the stranger went on, "I shan't shoot 
you now, if you do as I tell you. Take a seat by the hedse 
here, so that I may have a talk with you." 

I tremblingly obeyed. I fancied I ought to know that voice ; 
but then the appearance of the man was wholly new to me. 
When I had taken my seat in the manner ordered, the man laid 
bis gun to rest against the hedge, so close to me that I could 
see the glitter of the yellow caps upon its nipples. Without 
another word the man charged his pipe, and struck a match. 
In the glare of the flame I instantly recognised that face, and 
nearly fainted with terror at the sight. Confronting me were 
the ugly, villainous features of the dirty, bad fellow, whom I 
saw coming into our house late at night some years previously, 
and whom I had dubbed " the Irishman." A considerable 
change had taken place in him since then. For one thinsr, 
he appeared sturdier by a good deal. He began to question 
me, closely and authoritatively, concerning mother and Bob, and 
especially about the owner of the Hall and his game-keepers. I 
kept back, nothing, fearing him so much that my clothes stuck to 
my skin with cold sweat, and he seeming much diverted bv my 
fright. He kept me there a long time, some of the words he 
let drop having the effect of opening my eyes to our family 
history. I had had my doubts previously; but now I saw 
clearly through the whole. The Irishman, for that was the 
only name by which I knew him, was busily questioning 
me, when, in the very midst of a sentence, he suddenly 



92 RHYS LEWIS. 



paused. He snatched up his gun, and, taking his pipe from hi3 
mouth, paused to listen attentively. The silence \ras simply 
oppressive. Next minute he gave a vigorous pull at his pipe, as 
if fearing the fire would go out, and then took to listening 
attentively once more. I fancied I heard footsteps advancing 
quickly along the path by which I had come. The Irishman 
drew his hat down tightly over his head, and I heard, at 
no great distance off, a low signal whistle. Without saying a 
word, my strange companion jumped to his feet, cleared the 
hedge at a bound, and disappeared into the wood. Simulta- 
neously I, like a frightened stag, was diminishing the distance 
between that spot and our house. A bullet would hardly have 
overtaken me. On reaching the highway, I stopped to take 
breath, and heard first one gun-shot and then another, 
followed by shouting and a disturbance. I proceeded quickly 
along, and almost directly met my brother Bob, to whom, 
briefly, I related what had occurred. He, on his part, 
warned me not to say a word to mother or anyone else on 
the subject, adding, that the time had now come when I ought 
to know that which had hitherto been kept from me, and that 
he would tell me all when we were in bed. He fulfilled his 
promise, and I his command, for, from that day to this, I have 
never mentioned a word to any living soul of what took plaoe 
oil that night near the Hall park. 

Said I not appropriately that Seth's acquaintance had formed 
an epoch in my history? How much more, by the morrow, did 
I know about my family ; and, let me hope, how much better a 
bov had I become ! 



CHAPTEE XIV. 

WILL BRYAN. 

Seth's funeral was the first I ever was at, and such hare been 
the changes introduced in connection with this ceremony during 
the last thirty years, that I have thought it might not be un- 
interesting to note a few facts in relation thereto. About that 
period the more enlightened Methodists of shire were 



RHYS LEWIS. 93 

teaching the people to abolish the silly custom of beer-drinking 
at burials. I \ras in Thomas Bartley's house on the eve of 
Seth's funeral, when Abel Hughes paid a visit to the mourning 
family. Abel endeavoured to draw some useful moral from the 
sad occasion, and it was evident that Thomas and Barbara 
Bartiey were touched to the quick under his instruction. But 
directly Abel alluded to the practice of drinking oeer at 
funerals, and expressed the hope that Seth's parents were not 
going to perpetuate it, Thomas raised his head, and, with a 
look of displeasure, remarked : *' Abel Hughes, you don't think 
I am going to bury my son as if he were a dog, do you ? No, 
there will be bread and cheese and beer for all who come, if 
my eyes are still open." 

Abel seriously argued the point with him, but without avail. 

•'No, no, Abel Hughes," he declared, *' even if Seth wasn't 
like other children, I aint going to bury him with a cup of tea " 
— wiping his eyes with his coat sleeve. 

He was as good as his word. "When Will Bryan and I went 
there, early on the morrow afternoon, we saw upon the table 
half a cheese, with a knife by its side, a loaf of white bread, a 
good-sized jug, full of beer, a number of new pipes, and a small 
plate containing tobacco. We were received by Thomas 
Bartiey in person, whose first word to us was : — 

"William, put something to your mouth; Ehys, put some- 
thing to your mouth." 

As for me, I did not feel anything the matter with my mouth, 
and I fancy Will felt no difi'erently, for I noticed him staring at 
Thomas Bartiey, who, finding we did not know what he meant, 
cut a chunk of bread and cheese, and filled a small glass of beer 
for each of us. I marvelled how Will Bryan could drink the 
stuS without pulling faces. I had great difficulty in swallowing 
my portion, of which the effects became speedily known to me. 
I felt myself, all at once, on wonderfully good terms with 
everybody. I fancied my hands had grown remarkably fine and 
large, and I had a great desire either to sleep or laugh, I 
could not tell clearly which. I knew that neither the one nor 
the other proceeding was proper at such a place, and, strongly 
exerting myself against the influence of the glass, refused to put 
anything more " to my mouth." Divers of our old neighbours. 



94 RHYS LEWIS. 



who had arrived before us, were enjoying their pipes. Several 
more came in after us, Thomas Bartley greeting every one 
upon his entrance with the same words : "Put something to 
your mouth," whereupon the new-arrival would walk straight 
to the beer jug, pour out a glass, and cut himself a bit of bread 
and cheese. Everyone kept his hat on, and each in turn spoko 
of this, that, and the other thing, which had no sort of connection 
with Seth's death. Nearly everybody smoked and expectorated 
upon the floor, which was somewhat thickly strewn with white 
sand. The jug was many times replenished. The man who 
last helped himself placed the glass opposite him who sat on his 
left, and turned the handle of the jug in the same direction. 
"When anyone forgot to do his duty within a reasonable space of 
time, someone else, more impatient than his brethren, would cry : 
*' Whom does the handle point to?" which was a signal for the 
man towards whom the handle pointed, either to drink up, or 
turn the handle toward his neighbour. This business went 
on for an hour and a half or two hours, until here and 
there a member of the company had taken about as much as he 
could comfortably hold, and had undergone a considerable 
change of countenance. I remember, to this day, the tailor, 
James Pulford, a little, talkative fellow, with a face that was 
ordinarily as pale as death, but which was, on this afternoon, as 
rosy as any farm labourer's I ever saw. 

A few minutes before we turned out for the churchyard, two 
men came in from the next room, with pewter vessels in their 
hands, something like those now used for ailministering the 
sacrament, only larger, and with handles ornamented with lemon 
peel. One contained what was termed " mulled ale," but 
which might have been more properly called "boiling ale;" 
and the other " cold ale," both being highly spiced. Directly 
these vessels made their appearance, every man took his hat off, 
and in the midst of a silence like the iirave's, the cup-bearers 
went around, serving out both kinds of drink in exactly the same 
manner, and with almost exactly the same seriousness, as we 
administer the Lord's Supper. What it all meant I did not, and 
do not, to this day, know. This ceremony gone through, all 
put on their hats again, and resumed the conversation. Shortly 
afterwards, Dayid the Carpenter took a plate round, the men con- 



I^HYS LEWIS. 95 



tributing a shilling, and Will Bryan and I sixpence a-piece, that 
being the customary proportion. I ought to have said that Abel 
Hughes came in a few minutes before the time for "raising the 
body/' as it is called, and that when Thomas Bartley asked him 
to *' put something to his mouth," he declined— which greatly 
oflfended Thomas Bartley. When the time came for starting, it 
was found that not one of those who had come to the funeral 
was accustomed to pray in public, with the exception of Abel 
Hughes, but the refusal to " put something to his mouth,"' had 
so annoyed Thomas Bartley that the latter would not ask his 
seryices. I saw him speaking in the ear of David the Carpenter, 
who was a very worldy-minded man. "WTien the body was laid 
upon the bier, every man dropped his hat over his ear, as if 
listening to something the article had to say. The women from 
the other apartment hurried to the windows, and looked 
through, holding pocket handkerchiefs to their mouths ; David 
the Carpenter fell on his knees beside the bier, and rattled 
through the Lord's Prayer at express speed, just for all the 
world as if he were counting a score of sheep. 

Then came the procession to the cemetery. Will Bryan and I 
walked on either side of Thomas Bartley, I carrying the ever- 
greens, and Will the gravel for the adornment of Seth's grave. 
In Church, while Mr. Brown was galloping over the Burial 
Service, 1 noticed that several of those present had fallen into a 
deep sleep, among the rest being James Pulford, whose nose 
was neatly disposed along his waistcoat. At the termination of 
the service at the grave, David the Carpenter ascended a tomb- 
stone, and, on behalf of the family, thanked the neighbours for 
their kindness in coming to the funeral, adding that Thomas 
and Barbara Bartley wished to express the hope that, at some 
day not far distant, they would have the opportunity of return- 
ing a similar compliment to each one, and that the father of the 
departed desired they should all meet at the Crown, now the 
service was over. After the bedecking of the grave, those 
present, Abel Hughes, Will Bryan and myself, excepted, made 
straight for the Crown. Will would have gone too, but for fear 
of a row at home. While we were in Church, a houseful of 
women took tea with Barbara, my mother being one of the 
invited. I do not know what went on at the Crown, but some 



96 ■ RBYS LEWIS. 

hours later I saw Thomas Bartley returning home between two 
neighbours, and although they were all pretty quiet over it, I 
fancied there was some disagreement between them as to which 
side of the road it was best they should walk on. Shortly after- 
wards, I heard James Pulford go by our house singing: — 

•' On Conway's banks, once on a time." 

Were all this put into print, some people would doubtless 
wonder and disbelieve ; but others, I know, would bear 
testimony to the accuracy of the description, and say that its 
fault is its brevity, and that it does not convey the whole truth. 
I have refrained from noting all the unseemly things which 
took place in connection with Seth's funeral. Of a mercy, what 
a reform there has taken place by this time. And there is yet 
room for more. If the beer has been banished, tea and coffee, 
beef and ham, have taken its place. When strangers from a 
distance attend a funeral, it may be proper, no doubt, to make 
provision for them. But what reason can be given for all the 
junketing that is now seen on such occasions among the neigh- 
bours. Some poor families will prepare a costly feast, and that 
simply for the sake of people who live close by. The main- 
tenance of such a fooUsh custom is a cruel hardship towards the 
poor, and unseemly in the last degree, I should fancy. 

Seth buried, there remained to me but one bosom friend only 
— Will Bryan ; and the conviction constantly forced itself upou 
me that our acquaintance was not to continue long. Will had 
an open, kindly heart, and a lively, daring spirit ; but, day by 
day, the consciousness strengthened in me that he was not a 
good boy. He spoke contemptuously of the strict rules of tn^* 
Society ; and it was but rarely he called people by their right 
names. He had a nickname for nearly everyone he knew. 
John Lloyd, as I have observed, he called "old Scraper;" 
Hugh Bellis, the deacon who wept during sermon, *' old 
Waterworks;" Thomas Bowen, popular with the children, 
"old Trump;" Abel Hughes, who wore knee-breeches, and 
had thin legs, "old Onion." He had an " old " to every name. 
He never mentioned his parents save as " the gaffer yonder," 
And the "old pea-hen yonder." I have observed that truly did 
my mother say there was some serious defect in that lad's 



RBYS LEWIS. >^- 



character wlio was in the habit of calling his father *' gaffer,'' 
" governor," and the like. I do not deny but that this aptitude 
for finding descriptive names for people would have been a 
special talent in Will, had it been turned to right use. Some of 
these satirical designations have stuck to their owners to this day ; 
but it would be ill were I or anyone else to specify them. I did 
not take any particular notice of this tendency in Will until on 
one occasion he referred to my mother as "the old Ten Com- 
mandments." This offended me greatly, and Will perceiving I 
did not like the name, never used it again. Thinking the matter 
over to-day, I cannot help seeing some appropriateness in the 
designation, for my mother was ever and always giving us com- 
mandments of some sort, and charging us to do this thing or 
that. When I reflect that my mother was a woman of some 
penetration, I rather wonder she should have permitted me to 
associate so much with "Will Brj-an. On second thoughts, 
however, I see nothing in the world to wonder at. I never, in 
my life, knew a lad who had such a knack of putting himself on 
good terms with everj'body. His impudence, his handsome, 
cheery face, his bold, brave bearing, his musical voice, and 
smooth, witty tongue, were weapons which he used to some 
purpose always. He understood my mother to a nicety. I 
heard her, more than once say, when low-spirited, that a visit 
from Will wo aid half cure her. I have seen her smile, and 
obliged to use a strong etfort not to laugh outright, at some of 
those pleasantries of AVill's for which, had I used them even in 
the self-same words, she would have boxed my ears. I know 
she often felt she put up with too much of this kind of thing in 
Will, and, as a salve to her conscience, she would give him bits 
of good advice in return. Let the following conversation serve 
as an illustration of many such : — 

•' Will, my bov, you'll do a deal of good or of harm in this 
here world. I hope to goodness you'll get a little grace." 

" There's plenty of it to be had, isn't there, Mary Lewis P But 
I never like to take more than my share of anything, you know." 

'•Don't talk lightly, Will; you can never get too much 
grace." 

*• So the gaffer vonder says, always; but it is'nt a good thing, 
you know. Mary Lewis, to be too greedy." 



98 RHYS LEWIS. 



"And who's your * gaffer,' pray ? " 

" The old hand, you know— my father," replied Will. 

**Will," said my mother, severely, '* I charge you not to 
call your father ' gaffer ' and ' old hand ' again. I never, in my 
life, knew good to come of children who called their father 
and mother ' him yonder ' and * her yonder,' or ' the old hand 
yonder' and * the old woman yonder.* Don't you let me hear 
you call your father by any such stupid names again, you mind, 
now." 

"All right," said Will. " Next time I shall call him Hugh 
Bryan, Esquire, General Grocer and Provision Dealer, Baker to 
his Eoyal Highness the Old Scraper, and ." 

Before he could finish his story he had to bolt, mother after 
him, weapon in hand. For all his mischievousness mother was 
never angry with him. ** He's a rough 'un, that boy," she 
would often say. "Ifhe got grace, he'd make a capital preacher." 
A remark of this kind made me a little jealous. She never told 
me I would make a preacher, although that had become the 
chief desire of my life by this time, and I knew Will Bryan 
never intended to be one. 

I do not think mother regarded Will as anything worse than 
a mischief-loving lad, until he began brushing up his hair from 
his forehead, or, as it was then called, " making a Q,. P." When 
she saw a white parting upon Will's head, and signs that he 
oiled his hair, his fate was sealed for ever. It troubled me much 
to think my mother should take this innovation so seriously, 
because I thought Will looked splendidly in his " Q. P," and I 
longed for permission to imitate him. I was quite tired of my 
mother's fashion of cutting my hair, which was to clap a large 
butter-basin upon my head, and shear around the edges until 
my head looked for all the world like a haycock newly thatched. 
I saw there was no hope of improvement upon this method ; 
especially in the light of the following observations, made by 
my mother to Will Bryan, directly she saw his " Q. P.":— 

*' Will, my boy, I used to think you a good lad, for all your 
foolishness. But I see the devil has found the weak spot ia 
you, too." 



RHYS LEWIS. 99 



"What's the matter now, Mary Lewis? I haven't killed 
anybody of late, have I ? " asked "Will. 

"No, I hope not," replied mother. '* But then you ought to 
kill the old man." 

" Whom do you mean, Mary Lewis ? Is it the gaffer yonder? 
No, name of goodness; I shan't kill the old hand. What 
would become of me ? I should starve." 

"No, Will, it is'nt your father I mean, but the old man who 
is in your heart." 

" Old man in my heart! There is no old man in my heart, 
I'll take my oath." 

"Yes, there is. Will, and you'll come to know it some day." 

" But when did he get in there, Mary Lewis ? " asked Will. 
"He must be a very little 'un— less than Tom Thumb." 

" He was in your heart before you were born, and he's bigger 
than the giant Goliath," replied mother. "And unless you 
take a smooth stone from the river of salvation, and sink it deep 
in his forehead, he is sure to cut your head off with his sword." 

" But how am I to drive a stone into his forehead, if he is in 
my heart ? " said Will. " And being there, how can he cut my 
head off with his sword ? " 

" You know who I'm talking of, Will," said mother ; " it is 
the old man of sin, I mean." 

"01 now I understand you. Why don't you speak plain, 
Mary Lewis ? But isn't there sin in the hearts of all of us, 
according to the old — father yonder ? " 

"There is, my boy," said mother; "and it breaks out in your 
head, in the shape of that silly * Q. P.' " 

And, at this juncture, my mother attacked fluently and un- 
sparingly, the evil habit of brushing the hair off the forehead. 
Will felt the rebuke, and walked almost haughtily away. 

"Ehys," said my mother, after he had gone, "don't you have 
much truck with Will Bryan from this time out. Pride has 
taken possession of his heart. I'm surprised Hugh Bryan 
fihould permit such a thing. If Will were son of mine, I'd cut 



loo RHYS LEWIS, 



his hair iu a jiffey, that I would. There he is, I know, looking 
at himself in the glass, every day, to feed his vanity. Thank 
Heaven, there never was a looking glass in our family till your 
brother Bob brought one here ; and I could have wished in my 
heart that that had never crossed my door-step. Your grand- 
mother used to say that people, by looking in the glass, saw the 
Evil One, and I can easily believe it. I don't know what'll 
come of the rising generation, unless there is a speedy revival. " 
And mother sighed from the bottom of her heart. 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE BEGINNING OF TROUBLES. 

Said my mother to me one day : — 

•' You are getting to be a big boy, Ehys. and, as things are, 
I ctn't afford to keep you running and romping about any 
longer. Your brother began work in the mine long before he 
was your age, and younger boys than you are earning their bit 
every day, I warrant me. But what you are fit for, I don't 
know, and can't think of. It is a hard case you should be carry- 
ing your head in the wind at this age, and your mother no better 
than a widow, if as good. You are not strong, that is plain 
enough, or it is to the colliery you should go, straight away ; 
you are not scholar enough for a shop-keeper, and even if you 
were, I have no monej" to give you a start. How I could raise 
five or ten pounds to apprentice you, I don't know. Even if ten 
shillings were to get you into the best shop iu the town, I 
couldn't tell where to turn my head to look for them. And yet, 
you must think of doing something for a livelihood. Your feet 
are nearlv on the ground, and, like the dog, you wear the same 
suit Sundays and weekdays. If you earned only enough to keep 
yourself in clotiies, it would be something. Food is so dear, 
and your brother's wages are so small, tiiat as much as I can do 
is to make both ends meet, and scrape an occasional penny 
towards the Cause. Ana you'd wonder greatly if you knew how 



F.HYS LEWIS. loi 



much I am obliged to moither and scheme to keep things 
straight. As Thomas of Nant says : — 

' It's a deal of skill gets Will to bed.' 

If this strike they talk of in the work takes place, I reaily don't 
know what'll becomes of us. I only hope we'll have the means 
of living honestly, whatever happens. Up to now, thanks to 
the Great Euler, we have been able to pay our way remarkably 
well, though obliged to live hard. But I never saw good 
come of keeping children too long without setting tiieni to 
work; it only brings them up to mischief. 

"I don't dispute but that I could persuade James Pulford, 
the tailor, to take you on. But he is an unmannerly, good-for- 
nothing man, who often gets drunk ; and I fear your soul 
would not receive fair play, which is the main thing after all. 
I would rather see you a godly chimney sweep, than an un- 
godly clerk of the peace. Perhaps, you'd tell me, the children 
would be calling after you, 

♦ Tailor, tailor tit, 
Clogs on your stockingless feet.' 

Well, let them. That would break no bones in you. You'd 
have a dry back and a trade at hand always. I'd rather see 
you a tailor than a farm- servant. The weather or some other 
thing stiffens and freezes the souls as well as the bodies of 
people of that sort, I'm thinking; and being always in the 
company of animals makes them very much like animals them- 
selves. I never in my life saw a set so listless and with less of the 
man in them, as one of the brethren used to say. These farm- 
servants are somehow like slaves. They are too shy to raise 
their heads, save in the stable, or on the day of ploughing for the 
best. How I pitied them the night 1 was at Yaenol I It was 
cold and wet, and when the men, poor things, came in to supper, 
with not a dry rag about them, they went to that long table, you 
know of, near the window, far from the fire. There were some 
half a dozen of them, I should fancy; and they came into the 
house softly, and sat on the benches each side of the table, 
with their heads hung down, and their eyes looking up under 
their brows, just as if they had been thieving all day instead of 



I02 RHYS LEWIS. 



toiling hard in muck and moisture. And not one of them spoke 
a word. All I heard was the sound they made in eating 
pottage, and even that finished in a crack. For about a 
quarter of a minute or so they watched, from under their brows, 
the eye of the husbandman, and when he gave the signal, 
there came a bit of a noise of moving feet and benches, when 
out the poor wretches went in a row. I pitied them from my 
heart. They did not look like men, somehow. I refiected 
at the time that two of them were members of the same church 
as Mr. Williams their master, one of the two, Aaron Parry, being 
an extraordinary man in prayer. I was very sorry to see such a 
distance kept between master and man. I'll never believe the 
Saviour likes a thing of that kind. 

" But this is what I was going to say :— I wouldn't for the 
world see you become a farm-servant. I almost begin to think 
your brother Bob was right, and that a little learning always 
came in handy, only not too much of it. If you'd had a bit 
more schooling, I shouldn't miud a feather asking old Abel to 
take you into his shop. He wouldn't, surely, after all our 
acquaintance, have refused. But I may as well say no more 
about that. Thomas Bowen told me, coming from the Society, 
it was high time you were taken into full membership, and I 
should like to see you coming forward, if you have properly 
considered the matter. You have mastered the chapter from 
the Instructor* I know, and have learned, a long time since, 
those portions of the Gospels which give an account of the 
ordinance of the Lord's Supper. But it is necessary, my son, 
you should pray that your mind be bent in the right direction, 
lest you be found unworthy. I wish from my heart to see you 
apprenticed to the heavenly calling before you are apprenticed 
to a wordly one. 

' 'Tis better youth the yoke should wear, 
Than worlds of empty pleasure share.' " 

She said a great many things in addition ; indeed mother was 
quite capable of going on in this strain all day long. It was 
plain that the time had come when I must think of earning my 
bread. I was older in the head, and knew more of mother's affairs 
and troubles than she suspected. My heart burned with a desire 
* Charles' Christian lustructor. 



RHYS LEWIS. 103 



to help her. We all three depended entirely upon Bob's earnings, 
but these, hard though he worked, were barely enough to keep 
him in proper food and clothing. The coal market was pretty 
brisk, but a swarm of ofiBcials and overseers— greedy, rapacious 
strangers— pocketed, ate and drank up all the profits of the Eed 
Fields Colliery, while the poor workmen and their families were 
half-starved. Bob, who was one of the oppressed, had for some 
time past been chafing under the infliction, and it was obvious 
that his righteous indignation, long pent-up, would, one day, 
burst its bounds. I learned from some of the colliers' children 
that Bob was a person of considerable influence with, his fellow- 
workmen; that he had taken the chair at a meeting, held a short 
time previously, to consider the advisability of asking for an 
advance of wages, and that he had made a capital speech. I 
felt proud of him, and not without cause, for he had taken great 
pains with me. Never did he tire of guiding me in my studies, 
and I am more indebted to him than to any man living for the 
direction my life has taken. True, after his excommunication, 
he never spoke to me of religion or on religious subjects, unless I 
first spoke to him. But whatever other knowledge he could 
impart to me, he, to the best of his ability, did. He made me 
promise solemnly, more than once, that I would never become 
a collier, even if I was obliged to go out to beg. Likely enough 
it was the insuS'erable tyranny and arrogance he himself had 
experienced which made him ask this of me. But he need not 
have been so insistent; I never had the slightest inclination 
to go to "the work." Bob's daily complaints of the hard labour 
and the oppression had created an unconquerable disgust in me 
towards employment in the coal-mine. 

Besides this, I was secretly cherishing the desire to become 
a preacher, and I fancied it must be a long way from the pit's 
bottom to the pulpit. The notion might have been a foolish 
one, but I thought it was easier climbing the pulpit from any 
place than from a coal-pit. Not a living soul knew my predi- 
lection, and I have no fear now that anyone will get to know. 
I have completely failed to explain to myself, or find out, the 
moving cause of my wish to become a preacher. I should have 
been glad to hear the experiences of others, if there are anv, 
who have been similarlv situated. I admit that the motive 



I04 RHYS LEWIS. 



was not tlie right one, namely, the desire to do good, and the 
conversion of sinners from the error of their ways ; for that, at 
the period of which I am speaking, had not yet entered my 
mind. I am strongly inclined to believe it was some sort of 
admiration of the order that possessed me, unless it was some- 
thing worse, namely, a proud ambition. I remember picturing 
myself a great, portly, pulpit-filling personage (which I never 
have been), preaching with a zest, with people listening for very 
life, talking about me, and praising me, when the sermon was 
over. I would be doing my history an injustice if I were to say 
that I knew nothing of religious impressions. After all the 
trouble mother had taken with me, it would have been a miracle 
almost had I remained unimpressed. I was cognisant, long 
before this time, of serious moments, of the fear of sinning 
against God, and dying the death of the wicked. But I cannot, 
in any way, account for the irrepressible desire I felt, and that 
whilst I was yet a mere lad, to become a preacher. I am sorry, 
even to this day, that I did not confide to mother what was 
lurking in my heart, not only because she would have given 
every welcome and encouragement to the desire, but also 
because I feel that I deprived her of the greatest joy and pleasure 
I could have extended to her in her bitter troubles. I know 
I could not possibly have better filled her cup of happiness than 
by disclosing my determination to, one day, become a preacher. 
But I kept it all locked up in my own breast. I am not 
flattering myself, nor relating any but a simple fact, when I 
say that I was, at that time, more thoughtful than my 
associates; and although' touched to the quick by Will 
Bryan's ridicule, when he called me "the holy one," I was 
conscious of a hidden purpose which he could neither under- 
stand nor in the least sympathise with. I took the greatest 
interest in every preacher, and never tired of talking about 
the order to any one who would talk to me. 

By constant application, and with Bob's help, I had become a 
better scholar than mother took me to be. I could read and 
write, both Welsh and English, tolerably well. Induced by 
John Joseph, at the Children's Meeting, I had, for some time, 
been in the habit of taking down the text on Sundays, with 
as manv as I could of the heads of sermon. I remember being 



RHYS LEWIS. 105 

very angry Tvith some preachers because they did not divide 
their texts, and very pleased ^vith TVilliam Hnghes of Aber- 
cwmnant, because his heads of sermon ^rere pretty much alike, 
"whatever test he took. They -^-ere nsually three in number, 
and ran somewhat as follows ; — 

I. The object noted. 

II. The act attributed. 

III. The duty enjoined. 

I often foresaw and wrote out these divisions during his exordium, 
and before he had named them. The old preacher had one 
habit for which I often wondered he had not been called to 
account. Towards the end of his sermon he always said, *' One 
other word before I finish." He would speak a hundred words 
or more. He would next say, " One word again, before I leave 
you," and go on for five or ten minutes. A third time he would 
say, "One other word before I take my departure," and we were 
sure of a long speech after that. I thought it stranee that he, 
a preacher, should not be called to account for telling stories. 
"Will Bryan would often make such conduct his excuse for say- 
ing that which was not true. John Joseph used to praise me 
for being able to repeat the heads of sermon— which pleased 
me greatly. About this time John established a class for 
teaching young men the elements of music and grammar, 
which speedily grew into one for competitive recitations, essay- 
writing, and religious controversy. It had many members, but 
I am afraid to name them, lest I should be obliged to go into 
their histories. "Will Bryan was a member, but it was not often 
he took part in our public gatherings. His favourite business 
was to poke fun at our mistakes and shortcomings— a business 
he pushed to an extent which made him odious to the majority 
of the young men, who resolved, if they could do so anyhow, to 
get rid of him. "Will was the only member who brushed his 
hair away from his forehead; and at a properly-convened 
meeting a resolution was passed that no one should be a member 
of that Society who was found guilty of "making a Q. P." 
Will was consequently expelled. He cared nothing for that. 
To avenge his disgrace, he nicknamed us "The Society of Flat- 
hairs ; " and, like the rest of his nicknames, this one stuck to us 



io6 RHYS LEWIS. 



as long as we were in existence. Our minds received impressions 
■which were never obliterated, and there was created in us a 
taste for things religious, which we could never be too thankful 
for, by these meetings. 

Shortly after Will's expulsion from the society, his name and 
mine were broug'ht before the Society as candidates for full 
membership. Our applications were submitted by Thomas 
Bowen, the preacher, who was at all times zealous in behalf of 
the youth of the church, and particularly careful they should 
not be left too long out of full membership. He was constantly 
urgii.g parents to press home the matter to their children's 
minds, and duly to prepare them for such an event. On the 
other hand, Abel Hughes would speak of the circumspection 
necessary in, and the danger of, the reception into full member- 
ship of those who were not of ripe knowledge and experience. 
Preacher and deacon being thus at opposite extremes, occasion- 
ally squabbled over the point. Thomas Bowen had long been 
talking of my coming forward, while Abel Hughes advised they 
should take time and go slow. In the end Thomas Bowen con- 
quered, and so one night we were called up to the bench in the 
centre of the chapel, for examination. I and others of the same 
age were anxious to be admitted, but Will Bryan would have 
preferred being left alone. Doubtless he feared the examina- 
tion, for he had taken but little interest in religious questions, 
although in natural ability he was far above us all. If I remem- 
ber rightly, we were six in number, and I sat at one end of the 
bench, while Will Bryan, unconcerned as usual, sat at the other. 
Abel Hughes got up and began the examination with me. He 
was rather hard on me, but I pulled through better than I 
expected. I knew from Thomas Bowen's voice and manner 
that I was answering satisfactorily, for he smiled, threw his 
legs about, one over the other, nodded to Hugh Bellis, and 
muttered, " Ho ! " " H'm ! " after each reply, as if he meant 
to say, " Not so bad, really." Abel proceeded with the two lads 
next me, with the same satisfactory result. He then sat down, 
and invited Thomas Bowen to take the remaining three. Thomas 
Bowen got up, thrust both hands into his trousers' pocket, 
assumed a satisfied look, and, addressing the deacon, said, 
*' Well, Abel Hughes, have you been pleased ? Tell me, was I 



RHYS LEWIS. 107 

not right, in thinking the boys were quite fit to be received ? 
Have I not said so for months ? But we will proceed." 

And he did proceed, with the fourth youth and the fifth. He 
did not, I thought, put such difl&cult questions as Abel Hughes 
had done, and the answers came quite easily. After an answer 
he considered rather a good one, he would turn to Abel with a 
significant look, as much as to say, "What do you think of 
that, Abel ? Will it do ? " Presently it came to Will Bryan's 
turn. Said Thomas to him, " William, my boy, you're a little 
older than the rest of the boys, and ought, in my opinion, to 
have been admitted long ago ; but there are people here who 
believe in taking time. I will not make my questions hard for 
you, although I know, were I to do so, you could answer them 
well enough. Will you tell me, William, my boy, how many 
offices appertain unto the Lord Jesus in his character as a 
Mediator ? " 

'' Three," replied Will. 

"Hah!" ejaculated Thomas. "'Three!' Do you hear, 
Abel Hughes ? Three I Had Dr. Owen himself been here, he 
couldn't have answered better. These boys know a great deal 
more than you think, Abel Hughes. The Children's Meeting, 
and that other one, have not been held in vain, j'ou see. The 
boys have listened and observed more than we imagine, I 
assure you. I have always said this. Yes suie, ' Three.' 
Well, Yv^'illiam, my son, will you name them.^ " 

"Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," said Will. 

A titter went through the chapel. Thomas Bowen looked as if 
fiome one had hit him with a hammer over the back of the neck. 
He sat down, in shame and chagrin, and fixed his gaze upon his 
boot-tips, uttering not a word save " H'm ! " 

" Go on, go on, Thomas Bowen," said Abel, eagerly. 

Thomas pretended not to hear him. 

I do not know whether it was mischief or ignorance that 
prompted Will to answer as he did, because he was wag enough 
and careless enough for the one thing or the other. Abel 
Hughes evidently believing it was not possible Will could be so 
ignorant as the answer implied, spoke sharply to him, and by way 



io8 RHYS LEWIS. 



of punishment, submitted to the church the proposition that 
we five should be received into full membership, leaving Will 
out until his knowledge and experience had matured. It was 
unanimously carried. 

Will did not care a jot for what had happened. Directly we 
left the meeting he laughed heartily, and declared he did not 
want to become a full member, adding, *' It was a good job the 
old hand and the old pea-hen weren't in the Society to-night." 
I felt now, more than ever, there was some serious defect in Will's 
character ; and yet I loved him greatly. Hardly were we out 
of chapel before he took hold of my arm, saying, " Let us go to 
the Colliers' Meeting." I did not as much as know that 
such a meeting was to be held, but Will somehow knew of 
every public gathering that took place. Seeing no harm in 
going, I went with him. It was an open air meeting. The 
night was a lovely one in summer. On approaching, I heard a 
great noise, and shouts of "Hear, hear," and " Hooray I " 
There were many hundreds present. I cannot express my 
astonishment when I found it was my brother who was address- 
ing the crowd. My heart gave a jump. I believed everything 
he said to be perfect truth, for it never entered into my head he 
could be mistaken. Will and I pushed to the front, Will 
shouting '* Hear, hear I " before he could catch a word of what 
was spoken. Never shall I forget my brother's appearance. 
He stood upon a high mound, with a number of the principal 
colliers at the Bed Fields Pit about him, and a tremendous 
crowd below. He held his hat in his left hand, and had his 
right extended. His eyes glowed like lamps in water, his lips 
trembled, his face was deathly white, and formed as strong a 
contrast to his beard and hair as if it had been a snowball set in 
soot. I remember wondering why Bob's face was so pale, while 
preachers' faces were so red, when speaking. I knew, from his 
appearance, that every joint, bone, and sinew of him were 
agitated right through, and I thought to myself what a splendid 
preacher he would have made, if he had not been expelled 
from the Society for that trifling fault of his. I had never heard 
him speak in public previously, and wondered where he got all 
those words which dropped so fluently from his lips. His audience 
laughed, groaned, vociferated. They were entirely in his hand. 



RHYS LEWIS. 109 

I think I could reproduce all I heard of his address ; but to 
what purpose ? "Well would it have been for him had he never 
said a word that night. His subject was the injustice and hard- 
ship suffered by the workmen, by reason of the arrogance and 
incapacity of the ofiB.cials. He proved, to the satisfaction of 
those who heard him, that the "Lankies" knew nothing of 
"Welsh mining operations, that they oppressed the men, and 
ruined the masters by their conduct. At the conclusion of the 
speec'n there were loud cheers, in the midst of which I ran 
home to tell my mother what I had seen, and what a capital 
speaker Bob was. 

Mother sat before the fire, pleating her apron. On my 
entrance, she looked up at me with a pleased expression, and 
complimented me on the way I had passed my examination. I, 
on my part, hastened to tell her all about Bob — what a splendid 
orator he was— how the people had shouted their applause, 
and so forth. Instead of rejoicing at the news, as I expected 
her to do, her face assumed a serious look, which was wholly 
Inexplic3ible to me. 

" "\\^oll, well, she said, with a heavy sigh, "the sweet is never 
without the bitter. Something tells me that trouble will come 
o: this. The day of trial is at hand. Oh I for grace to say 
nothing rash ! " And she fell into a deep study, in the course 
of which she kept on pleating her apron and looking steadfastly 
into the fire. 

I was Surry now I had told her the story, although I could 
not compre'nend why it s'nould have vexed her to such an 
extent. I went to bed thoroughly dispirited, chiefly because I 
did not understand the reason of my mother's sadness. The 
night was far advanced when Bob returned, and although I 
could not, from my bed, make out what was said, I heard hot 
words between him and mother, in the sound of whose voices I 
fell off to sleep. 

How true were my mother's fears! "Wldle the most reckless 
and extravagant of sinners were reposing peacefully on down 
that night, in the midst of plenty and luxury, with a whole 
continent between the wolf and their doors, anti whilst I wus 
sleeping heedlessly on my bed of straw, the trouble my mother 



no RHYS LEWIS. 



liad prophesied was already stalking to and fro before our 
cabin door, ready to seek admission, yea, even though he knew 
that inside there was at least one who feared her Grod above 
many. And that God knows she never spent six hours of her 
waking life without sending Him a prayer ! 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THE DAY OF TRIBULATION. 

It is with melancholy recollections I pen this chapter; and 
were it possible to give a faithful history of my life, leaving out 
all mention of what is narrated herein, I w^mld do so. But I 
cannot. Now, in cold blood, and at an age better competent to 
form an opinion, it is possible I do not entertain the same 
notion of the occurrences I am going to relate that I did at the 
time they took place. However, it is in their original aspect I 
must try to describe them. 

Eed Fields was one of the principal works of the neighbour- 
hood in which I "was brought up, and gave employment — 
reckoning the boys— to some hundreds of people. If I re- 
member rightly, the owners were English to a man. At one 
time " all things under the earth" were managed by a simple, 
honest Welshman, named Abraham Jones, a deacon with the 
CongregationaUsts. He was a cool, strong-minded man, pos- 
sessing great influence with those under him. Whatever 
dispute arose amongst them, it only wanted Abraham Jones to 
arbitrate, and everything was settled at once. The secret of his 
influence lay in his special aptitude for perceiving the location 
of the mischief, and the entire confidence everj'body had in his 
honesty and his religious character. He proved himself, at all 
times, a sincere friend of the workman, knowing well what it 
was to have been a workman himself. With him it was a 
matter of conscience to keep his eyes open to the welfare of the 
employers who paid him his salary ; but that did not prevent 
him from bearing constantly in mind the comfort and the safety 
of the men who^ he saw every day toiling and sweating in the 



J^HYS LEWIS. iir 



midst of danger. He was considered one of the most expert 
practical colliers in the country, and, during his management, 
everything •vreut on smoothly and without any hitch or disturb- 
ance worth the mention. 

He laboured under one great disadvantage in his connectiou 
with his chiefs: his English was so imperfect that, in consulta- 
tion with them, it appeared at times as if he were not perfectly 
straightforward in his story. And he vexed himself greatly on 
that account. He had lately got to notice that one or two of 
the directors deligted iu putting him through a course of 
minutest interrogatory with reference to the work; and 
although he had nothing to fear in that direction, the difiSculty 
he felt in explaining himself often placed him, he thought, in a 
rather unpleasant position. So sorely tortured had he -been by 
these cross-examinations that he felt neither disappointed nor 
grieved when, one day, at a meeting of directors, he was told 
it was best he should leave, they having found an English- 
man likely to do the duties better, and also to be able to give a 
completer account of the state of the colliery. The words 
appeared to remove a great burden from his mind. In his 
jerky way he blurted out, with a breast which swelled a little 
as he spoke : — " Gentlemen, I am very pleased indeed to hear 
what you say. If he whom you speak of can keep the work going, 
as smoothly and peaceably, in the interests both of masters 
and men for six months, as I have done for six years, then 
indeed he must be a very clever man." He thereupon took 
up his hat, made a polite bow, and went out. He often used to 
say afterwards that he believed he got help from above to speak 
English when taking leave of his employers. On his return to 
•work, and communicating the news to the men, there were 
mourning and tribulation not a little. Here and there a collier 
would have given vent to his feelings in language which was 
not altogether parliamentary. But in Abraham Jones's presence 
all such words had to be gulped back again after they had 
ascended to the lips, the effort to do so bringing tears to the 
eyes, which, trickling down the cheeks, left a clean white streak 
on each black face, to show how pure was the feeling which 
had produced them. It was hinted and pretty plainly spoken 
by the men that it was no want of ability or of faithful service. 



112 RHYS LEWIS. 



on Abraham Jones's part, whicli caused tlie directors to invite 
him. to resign, but the anxiety of some of them to find a place 
for a hard-up friend. Whether right or wrong, this belief pre- 
judiced the men against the new manager long before they set 
ej^es on him. And his appearance and acquaintance, so far 
from lessening, deepened their dislike towards Mr. Strangle, 
for that was the gentleman's name. He was a middle-aged 
personage, fat-paunched and blustering, who carried in h.is own 
person, all the roughness, the slovenliness and ignorance of his 
tribe at Wigan. His speech was coarse and uncouth, even the 
uneducated smiling to hear liim say "Ah" for "yes," and 
"mun" for "must." His speech, however, was but a trifling 
drawback compared to his insuiierable self-importance and in- 
considerate behaviour towards everybody about him. He was 
nicknamed " Bulldog," on the very first day he came to work, 
and really, on recalling his squab nose and wide jaw, I fancy 
that, had he chosen to claim it, no one would be found to deny 
his relationship with the species, except, perhaps, on the 
ground of his pretensions. If he were taken at his own word, 
he knew everything knowable, and never in his life made a 
mistake. To be brief, Mr. Strangle was a whole colliery in him- 
self — main coal, haulier, bye-man, cutter, shelterer, shaft, 
chimney-stack, engine-house, boiler and all, especially the 
lust. But Bob would say— and, of course, I believed every- 
thing he said must be right — that Abraham Jones's old flannel 
jacket was much more capable of managing the Eed Fields 
works than was Mr. Strangle. The antagonism of the men was 
rivalled only by his own hatred of Wales and the Welsh. He 
delighted in snubbing the people, and in doing everything con- 
nected with the colliery in a fashion directly contrary to 
Abraham Jones's. The result was that he speedily drew the 
work about his ears, as the saying goes, and some hundreds of 
pounds worth of fresh timber had to be used to keep the place 
together. To sum up, because it would take me a long time to 
tell the whole story, the state of things got, at lust, to be so bad 
that the tradesmen of the town, and the neighbourhood 
generally, went in daily fear of a strike at the Eed Pields 
Colliery. 

This was the state of affairs when that Colliers" Meeting was 



RHYS LEWIS. 113 

held, which I referred to in the previous chapter, and at which 
my brother Bob had made, what I considered to be, such a 
capital speech. Next day, whilst mother and a neighbour were 
conversing about the meeting, I got to know why she had 
been so much moved by my account of Bob's public utter- 
ances. It was from a fear that Bob would get himself into 
trouble. It was worth suffering a little hardship, she said, for 
the sake of peace. On the other hand, the neighbour thought 
it high time someone should speak up— the men's earnings were 
so small that it was impossible to maintain a family upon them. 
She had, however, warned her husband not to say a word, nor 
to make himself, in any way, conspicuous in the agitation. 
Mother made answer something to this effect : — 

" So, Margaret Peters, you are anxious our Bob and others 
should do all the fighting, while your husband, Humphrey, 
and everybody belonging to you, like Dan of old, * remain in 
ships,' and come in for a share of the spoil when the battle is 
ended. There is many a Dan in our days, as Mr. Davies of 
Nerquis, used to say." 

Margaret did not know enough Scripture to understand the 
comparison, but she could see right well it contained a blow 
aimed at her, so she turned the conversation to something else. 

How speedily were my mother's fears verified I When Bob 
came home from work that night he appeared unusually serious 
and thoughtful. After he had washed and taken food, my 
mother said to him, "Bob, I know by your looks you have 
some bad news. Have you had notice ? " 

"Yes," replied Bob. "Morris Hughes, James Williams, 
John Powell and myself, are to leave the work next Saturday." 

" Well, and what are we to do now .^ " asked mother. 

" Do our duty, mother, and trust in Providence," said Bob. 

** Yes, my boy ; but do you consider that you have done your 
duty ? I gave you many warnings, didn't I, not to take so 
prominent a part in this business. [Mother's observation as 
to "Dan in ships" recurred to me.] I know very well you 
workmen have cause to complain, and that it is a shame for a 
mere Saxon to come around the country and take the place of 
a pious man like Abraham Jones, with whom there never was 
any bother. You are but young, however; and why did'nt 

H 



RHYS LEWIS. 



you let some one like Edward Morgan go talking and messing 
in this matter — a man who has a house of his own, and a pig ? 
It wouldn't have made much odds to Edward if he got notice. 
But I may just as well shut up now. It is too late to lock the 
stable door after the horse has been stolen. The question is, 
what'll become of us ? " 

"Mother," replied Bob earnestly, *'it was not thus you 
taught me. * Do your duty, and leave the consequences to God,' 
was one of your first lessons, and I intend to act upon it as long 
as I have breath, not only because it was from you I learned 
it, but also because I believe it to be a sound one. The notice is 
no more than I expected. The few must suffer before good 
can come to the many, and if I and others are made scapegoats 
for the three hundred who work at Eed Fields, if we are the 
means of bringing about their liberty and their benefit, all well 
and good. I have never spoken a single word beyond what 
everybody in the work believes and feels to be true, although 
others have shrunk from uttering it in public. As I have said, 
someone must suffer for the many ; it is the great principle of 
God's government. Either the comfort or the life of one animal 
is sacrificed continually to keep other animals alive. As Caiaphas 
said, ' It is expedient that one man should die for the people, and 
that the whole nation perish not.' The principle of the Sacrifice 
on the Cross is practised daily on a small scale, and " 

"Stop your nonsense," commanded mother sharply. "I 
won't listen to you talking in such a fashion. Has your head 
gone wrong, or what ? Do you wish to compare the Death on 
the Cross with your notice to leave the work, or anything else 
on this blessed earth ? Do you mean to tell me there is any- 
thing in that to resemble the sufferings of the Saviour ? If you 
do, you'd better pack off to the 'Sylum as soon as you can." 

" Gently, mother," said Bob. "I need not tell you, who are 
so well acquainted with the Acts of the Apostles, that I am not 
the first who has been accused of madness on account of his 
zeal. To allay your fears on this head, understand that 
I mean to compare nothing to the Sacrifice on the Cross, 
either for magnitude or intent, but solely for principle. If 
there is no comparison between the finite and the infinite, thore 
is an analogy, and it is of the analogy I am speaking." 



I^HYS LEWIS. 115 



"Come, come," replied motlier, "don't you go throwing 
your big words at me. Keep within the Scripture, and I'll 
follow you wherever you like ; but none of your fine words, if 
you please. I'm sure 'analogy' is not a Bible word, and, as far 
as I remember, it is not ir. Mr. Charles' Instructor, either." 

" I know, mother," observed Bob, " that you have not read 
Butler's AnaJogy " 

"Butler? " interrupted mother. " Don't talk of your butler 
to me ! A pagan like him, who never goes to any place of 
worship but the Church, and who doesn't know anything but 
how to carry wine to his master. What do you mean by reading 
the butler?'"' 

This was too much for Bob, who laughed outright, which 
annoyed my mother so much that he hastened to explain. 

" It was not the Hall butler," he said, " but Bishop Butler I 
was thinking of, a great and good man. And this is what I 
was about to say, had you let me alone — a sacrifice is a 
covenant of life, blessing, and profit. Before it was possible for 
sinners to find life, it was necessary that the Son of God should 
sacrifice himself. ['There, now you're talking sense,' muttered 
mother to herself.] Before that life could be brought to men it 
was necessary that the apostles and a host of other of the world's 
best men, should suS'er much, even to the laying down of their 
lives. And something of the same kind still takes place 
every day, only with this difi"erence— that the least are sacrificed 
for the sake of the greatest. The cow, the sheep, the pig, and 
a host of other creatures, lose their lives so that you and I may 
preserve ours. And so in every state of being of which we have 
any knowledge. The like rule prevails in society. In fighting 
for the right, and against oppression, some of the heroes in the 
strife are sure of being trampled under foot and hui-t by the 
tyrant, aye, even when he is in retreat. Some one must 
fight the battle of the Eed Fields workmen before they are 
rid of their tyranny, and if I and my associates fall while 
sounding the battle-trumpet, let it be so ; the call to arms has 
gone forth, we have justice on our side, and others, even though 
we do not, will reap the rich fruits of the victory which is bound 
to follow. With a little wisdom and determination, I do not 
doubt but that things will wear another face at Eed Fields before 



ii6 HHYS LEWIS. 

many months are over. All I fear is that the men will use un- 
lawful means to attain their ohject. Many of them are utterly 
devoid of judgment, and are governed entirely by their hasty 
tempers. These, unless they have a wise man to lead them, 
will do more harm to the cause than can easily be imagined. 
But perhaps they will behave better than I anticipate." 

Either my mother paid no heed to what he had said, or was 
unable to answer Bob. 

"Pray more, and talk less, my son," was the only remark 
she made in reply. 

The notice given my brother and the other men named excited 
a deal of adverse comment at the colliery and neighbourhood, 
and the following Saturday was looked forward to with the 
most serious concern. Some feared a disturbance amongst the 
workmen if the notice were allowed to take eflfect; others 
fancied the masters had merely adopted a ruse in order to 
frighten the men into silence, and that Mr. Strangle would 
never dare to turn away the best and steadiest hands in the 
colliery, uuless he wanted to get himself into hot water. 

Saturday came, and Will Bryan, I, and other youths, went to 
the pit's bank about the time the men were expected to come 
up, in order to see what would happen. Presently a couple of 
police oflBcers came there, seemingly on the same errand. They 
were English, both. Almost directly afterwards, the workmen 
began to ascend, a cage-load at a time, each contingeut making 
straight towards the office for their pay; only, instead of going 
off home, as usual, after receiving their money, they settled down 
upon their heels, in scattered groups, all over the bank. 
Whether it was from accident or design, I know not, but Bob 
and his associates under notice formed the last load. No sooner 
did they make their appearance above the pit's mouth, with 
picks tied up together, than, like a great goblin-host, the men 
upon the bank sprang to their feet. Black face and ugly attire 
notwithstanding, many were the warm and honest hearts in the 
crowd, through which there ran a murmur. Bob and his compan- 
ions went to the office, their coming out being awaited in anxious 
silence. They had not to wait long. Wholly unconcerned, 
apparently, the friends hoisted their picks upon their shoulders, 
a sure sign that their notice had been insisted on. They were 



I 



RHYS LEWIS. 117 

immediately surrounded by their fellow-workmen, each in- 
quiring of the other whether they had been paid off. Morris 
Hughes desired Bob to speak. He did so as follows— and I, who 
yield to no man living in correctly relating what I myself have 
heard (for if I am vain of anything, it is of my memory), beai 
most solemn witness that he never said a single word beyond 
those which I now reproduce : — 

"My dear fellow-workmen," Bob began. ** I and my 
associates have been paid ofiF. We bid a last farewell to Eed 
Fields, and turn our faces elsewhere to look for employment." 

Before he could say any more some of the men began execra- 
ting the management, whereupon the two police officers inter- 
posed, with a request that they should go oflF quietly home. 
Both were unceremoniously thrust aside, and Bob was asked, 
with a shout, to go on. He accordingly proceeded : — 

'•We leave you with an easy conscience. We hsve done 
nothing wrong, and we trust no one will condemn us for 
publicly repeating the conviction we held in private, that we 
were unfairly and unjustly treated. You must now fight for 
your rights without help from us; but wherever we go to, your 
welfare and your success will always lie near to our hearts. I 
am not unconscious of the fact that there are before me scores 
of men older, wiser, and more experienced, than I ; but permit 
me to give you a word of advice. Take care not to do anything 
of which you may be ashamod hereafter. Be led by the wisest 
of your number, and, in battling for your rights, do so as men 
endowed with reason, who are to be called to account hereafter 
for all your actions. I think, and my friends here agree with 
me, that your best plan will be to lay your complaints before 
the directors in person. In Abraham Jones's time, if there was 
anything for which we wanted a remedy, all we had to do 
was to place the matter before him, and it would be sure of care- 
ful consideration. But I fear it would be useless for you to 
appeal to Mr. Strangle, because " 

Unfortunately, while Mr. Strangle's name was on Bob's lips, 
that individual came out of the office, and looked frowningly at 
the crowd. No sooner did he make his appearance than scores 
of throats opened out upon him, like a pack of hounds in full 
cry. A fierce rush was made towards him. and he -vvas carried 



ii8 RHYS LEWIS. 



along the road leading to the railway station like a straw before 
the whirlwind. The two officers, with incredible pluck, 
endeavoured to protect and to rescue him from the clutches of 
the infuriated colliers; and so did Bob and others. But no 
sooner was he liberated from one swarm than another was down 
upon him. One of the peace officers, thinking— honestly so, 
no doubt — that Bob was the ringleader, drew his staff and 
struck him over the temple, felling him to the ground. Better 
had the blow never been given, for next moment both officers 
were stretched senseless by the roadside and Mr. Strangle was 
being hurried away with a speed which must have been exceed- 
ingly uncomfortable for so corpulent a man. I thought Bob had 
been killed, for he lay, to all appearance, quite dead upon the 
ground, with no one but Morris Hughes and myself to look 
after him. I cannot describe either my grief on thinking him 
dead, or my joy when, a few minutes later, he came to him- 
self, and sprang to his feet. 

"Morris!" he cried. **A11 our efforts have been in vain. 
These madmen have ruined the cause. We must prevent this, 
if it be not too late." 

Both, followed by myself, hurried after the crowd. The 
effects of the blow were such that it was with difficulty Bob 
could keep up the pace, and when he took hold of Morris 
Hughes's arm — the latter being a young, powerful fellow — I 
saw his legs were giving way under him. Nearing the station 
we found that the crowd had doubled in numbers. 

*' Thank Heaven," cried Bob, " the train has not yet come in, 
and we may still be in time to stop the fools from sending Mr. 
Strangle away." 

We put a best foot foremost, but we were within barely three 
hundred yards of the platform when we beard the workmen 
give a loud cheer. 

" Too late ! " said Morris Hughes, " if it's any odds." 

'* Odds ? " cried Bob, slackening his pace. ' ' I should rather 
think it was. We shall lose the sympathy of the country, we 
shall be looked upon as savages, some of these lunatics will be 
sent to prison, and punished for their folly. Everything is now 
spoiled, and I'm sorry from my heart I ever meddled with the 
business." And he burst out crying like a child. 



RHYS LEWIS. 119 

The steam-engine whistled, loud and shrill, and the air was 
rent with demoniac shouts. The disorderly rabble next made a 
rush for the town. When they came to the spot where Morris 
Hughes and Bob were, they wanted, at any cost, to take my 
brother upon their shoulders and exhibit him as their hero. 
But Morris's strong arm restrained them. 

"My friend can't stand it," he declared. "But if you choose 
to listen, it may be that he has a word to say to you." 

The mob having signified its readiness, Bob ascended to the 
top of a hedge, and, leaning upon Morris Hughes's broad back 
for support, said : — 

" My friends, ever since the beginning of this agitation for 
the advancement of your wages and the better governance of 
the Eed Fields pit, I have taken a public part in it, and done 
my best to bring about an improvement in your circumstances. 
You know as well as I do that two or three of us, had we 
chosen to truckle to the masters, might have made ourselves 
a comfortable nest here. But then, you would not have been 
an atom the better off. After what has just taken place, I 
must tell you, even at the risk of being treated as you have 
treated Mr. Strangle, that I am ashamed of ever having had 
anything to do with you." 

Bob was too much overcome to say any more, and the 
crowd separated, some swearing, others grumbling, others 
silent and thoughtful. It is but fair to state that there were 
amongst the unruly multitude who whisked Mr. Strangle off to 
the station and bought a ticket for him, scores of workmen who 
disapproved of the foolish act, but who were powerless to 
prevent it. Before my brother and I could reach home, mother 
had been informed of the whole affair, with additions, and we 
found her waiting us in deep agitation. However, she was 
molliiied a good deal when Bob assured her that he had done his 
best to prevent Mr. Strangle's compulsory departure. At the 
same time, I could not fail to note signs of fear and uneasiness 
on the faces of both. Bob, who did not leave the house that 
night, was visii"ed by three of the friends who had been paid off 
like himself, who spent some hours in discussing with him the 
probable consequence of the day's foolhardiness. Though 
mother said nothing, I could see that she had a presentiment of 



I20 RHYS LEWIS. 



some coining evil. Bob's companion's having left, but little 
talk took place in our house that night. My brother preteuded 
to read, but I noticed he did not turn the leaves of his book, 
and knew very well he did not give a thought to anything it 
contained. 

Late at night, as we were about to retire, we heard footsteps 
approaching the house. Next minute a knock came to the door, 
and, before we had time to open, two officers of police came in. 
Mother's face grew pale, and I began to cry my loudest. Bob 
ordered me to desist, but it was with difficulty I could master 
my feelings. Bob, perfectly self-possessed, invited the officers 
to take a seat, which they did. Although never much in love 
with either of them, I must admit that they were a couple of 
very civil men, and that both considered their duty that night 
an unpleasant one. I was glad they were Welsh, because 
mother, in that case, could understand all they said. 

"I think," observed Bob quietly, *'that I know your 
errand." 

" Well," said Sergeant Williams, looking towards my mother, 
"it is a disagreeable errand enough, Robert Lewis, we must 
say. But I hope all will come off right on Monday. Mrs. 
Lewis," he went on, handing Bob the warrant to read, in order 
to spare my mother's feelings, "don't be frightened, it is only a 
matter of form. We must do our duty, you know, and, as I 
have said, I hope everything will turn out right on Monday." 

Mother said nothing, but the twitching of her mouth, and the 
lump in her throat, showed clearly the state of her feelings. 
Bob drew his boots on leisurely, and with the parting word, 
" Mother you know where to turn ; my conscience is at ease," 
walked away with the officers. They had hardly gone twenty 
yards from the house, when I heard high words and a struggle. 
Despite my mother's efforts to restrain me, I ran out, and saw 
a desperate encounter going on between the officeis and two 
strange men. One, a tall powerful fellow, knocked the con- 
stables about unmercifullj\ The other was but of middling 
size, but a perfect master of the work he had on hand. I had 
no difficulty in recognising the latter. It was the man who 
stopped me on my way home the night Seth died, and whom I 
had christened " the Irishman." I could not tell who the other 



RHYS LEWIS. 121 



•was, but I thought he resembled Bob in build and gait, only he 
was older and stronger. Their intention, as far as I could make 
out, was to give Bob a chance of escape, but when they saw he 
did not avail himself of it, but, on the contrary, assisted the 
officers, both took to their heels. On my return to the house, 
and apprising mother of what I had seen, she got up and 
locked the door. 

Neither of us went to bed. Much as I tried to repress my feel- 
ings, for mother's sake, and much as she tried to hide her trouble 
for mine, we were both repeatedly overcome by fits of crying in 
the course of the night. The morning broke— a lovely Sabbath 
morning. I saw the people, as they went by to their different 
places of worship, eyeing our cottage askance. Mother and I 
never once crossed the threshold, and I heard her repeatedly 
murmur something about "The day of Tribulation I" We ate 
but little. Theday seemed as long as a week. Mother opened our 
big old Bible dozens of times, but, as soon as she began to read, 
her eyes overflowed, and she would fix them abstractedly in one 
long gaze on the same spot. I saw the people going home from 
morning service, but no one called. I saw them again going to 
Sunday School, and returning from it,, but no one turned into 
our house. I felt sure some of our chapel folk would come to 
inquire for us after evening service ; but no one came. In 
mother's words, "Nobody darkened her door throughout the 
"whole of the day." We were anxious that someone should 
call, because we did not know how many had been taken to the 
lock-up, and mother feared lest Bob had been the only one. 
The clock struck nine and mother said it was best we should 
both go to bed and endeavour to get a little rest. But at this 
moment someone knocked at the door, and I, j umping up eagerly 
to open it, found— two deacons? No, but Thomas and Barbara 
Bartley, who told us they could not retire to rest without 
coming to see how mother got on in her trouble. Two visitors 
more unlike my mother in character and disposition it would 
have been almost impossible to imagine ; and yet we were 
heartily glad to see them. It gave us an opportunity of pouring 
forth the grief which had been storing itself up within us for 
four and twenty hours. Thomas and Barbara had been to the 
Crown, where they were given full particulars of the business. 



122 RHYS LEWIS. 



They stayed with ub for several hours. Eecalling the confabu- 
lation, I think it was one of the strangest and most amusing I 
ever heard, although it did not appear so then. And if it were 
not that this chapter is already too long, and that what I am 
going to relate in the following chapter weighs so heavily on 
my mind, I would record all that took place. The visit was a 
great relief to us, and mother and I were able to sleep that 
night without much thought that still bitterer things were in 
store. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

FURTHER TRIALb. 

Hardly can I persuade myself that they are facts I am 
narrating, and not the creations of my imagination. It was 
Monday morning, and mother had been for hours sitting, in deep 
thought, before the fire, pleating her apron. I easily got 
permission to go down town to see what would become of my 
brother and the five other men who had been locked up with 
him. The streets were full of people, anxiously waiting the 
opening of the police court. I had not been in town many 
minutes before Will Bryan found me out. He was always 
finding me out. I speedily learned some interest was felt in me, 
as the brother of one of the prisoners, and, as regards some of 
the charges, the most important of them. I met some friends of 
Bob, who asked how my mother was, and gave me each a penny. 
Will said, •* Take care of those pence; they'll come in right 
handy just directly." I did not know what he meant, and was 
too much occupied to ask for an explanation ; but I gave him 
the credit always of seeing farther than I. Almost immediately 
afterwards, I chanced on other friends of Bob, and got more pence 
— making five in all. Never in my life had I been so rich. 
Will, who had a penny of his own, suggested we should 
amalgamate our funds. I handed him over my five pennies, 
not caring a bit about them, in my grief, and having a bound- 
less faith in Will's honesty. No sooner was the money in his 
hand than he slipped into a shop where they sold pork pies. I 



RHYS LEWIS. 123 

thought he was going to indulge in that particular delicacy, 
and had no objection to his doing eo. When he came out I was 
disappointed at his showing me, in the palm of his hand, a silver 
sixpence he had got in change for the coppers, and which, with 
a knowing wink, he deposited carefully in his waistcoat pocket. 
I was thoroughly in the dark as to what he meant to do with 
the sixpence, and I am not sure I did not rather fancy that he 
purposed feeing an attorney with it to defend my brother. So 
little did I, at that time, know concerning the reasonable 
charges of that honest section of the human race. 

I was resigning myself wholly into Will Bryan's hands, to do 
as he pleased, both with me and mine, when I noticed a con- 
siderable stir, occasioned by the appearance of the owner of the 
Hall driving rapidly towards the Court House. He was the 
principal justice of the peace. Before my companion and 
I could reach it, the spacious building was tightly packed, 
and hundreds besides ourselves unable to obtain admission. 
On each side of the door were two police officers — embodiment 
of authority— declaring positively that every inch of room in- 
side was crammed full. " But," said Will, in my ear, "we are 
bound to get in." I did not see how he could hope for that. 
After a while the crowd shifted a little, and Will Bryan and I 
edged on into the neighbourhood of the officer's blue coat-tails. 
Almost directly, we were able to reach the door. Will was 
obliged to make more than one tug at the flap before attracting 
its owner's attention. All at once, the officer bent his head ; 
Will spoke a few words in his ear, the officer opened wide his 
eyes, as if he had received a piece of astounding information, 
the two shook hands, and next minute Will and I had been let 
into the Court House, while hundreds of great strong men 
were struggling outside. But I knew our joint property had 
changed hands. The Americans talk of the " Almighty 
Dollar ! " Tut ! A book might be written upon the miraculous 
powers of a sixpence. Will had found out, even thus early, 
that the pass- word, the "open sesame," to all places was 
a sixpence. In the present circumstances, I felt that my 
friend had sunk our money to excellent purposes ; and had 
it been six shillings, instead of sixpence, I should not have 
grumbled. 



124 RHYS LEWIS. 

It became immediately evident that the officer had spoken no 
more than the truth when he said the court was filled to over- 
flowing. Will, however, did not find much difficulty in bring- 
ing himself and me into a position which enabled us to see and 
hoar all that was going on. He drove me in front of him, like 
a wedge, into the heart of the crowd, and when he found a 
stoppage, he would, with an air of importance, say to those who 
were in the way, ''Robert Lewis's brother; Eobert Lewis's 
brother ! " with which words, a speedy path would be made 
for us, just as if I was going up to give evidence in the case. 
There was simply no end to Will's scheming. 1 had heard that 
Mr. Strangle had returned to the place a few hours after he was 
packed off. He was one of the first I recognised in court, and 
Burly and defiant enough he looked. The magistrates on the 
bench were Mr. Brown, the clergyman, and the gentleman from 
the Hall. As I have previously observed, Mr. Brown was a 
genial, kindly man ; but the owner of the Hall was quite a 
different personage. The latter was huge, unwieldy, pompous, 
over-bearing, and merciless. One would think that everybody 
and everything had been created for his service; and it was the 
general opinion that, did the law permit him, he would un- 
hesitatingly hang a man caught killing a pheasant. His 
natural severity appeared to have been watered — or rather 
wined— too often, and, as a consequence, to have sprouted up 
through his face, which was of the colour of parboiled American 
beef and was ornamented (?) by a monstrous lump of a nose, 
wherein a kind of perpetual shiver was observable, aod 
through which its owner, when roused, would snort like a war- 
horse. Nobody ever discovered what other qualifications the 
gentleman from the Hall possessed for the magisterial bench, 
except that he was a rank Tory, a zealous Churchman, was very 
wealthy and always wore spurs, save when in bed. Even Mr. 
Brown dreaded him, and I myself had noticed that that pleasant, 
respected gentleman, in speaking to him on the road, always 
kept a dubious, wary eye upon those spurs, as if he feared their 
wearer might jump suddenly on his back and drive him to the 

, well, the place the wearer himself was speedily going to, 

more's the pity. The senior magistrate appeared that Monday 
morning to "be in his oil," as Will Bryan expressed it. To try 



RHYS LEWIS. 125 



a lot of collier fellows was always a congenial task with him, 
for he believed them all to be poachers. Those knew, who 
■wished to know, that but three of the six prisoners before the 
bench had taken any part in the attack on Mr. Strangle. 
Morris Hughes, John Powell and my brother had done all they 
could to prevent such folly. But then Mr. Strangle and the 
two police officers swore that these three were ringleaders in 
the scandalous business ; and, although neither overseer nor 
constables understood a word of "Welsh, they declared on oath 
that Bob had instigated the attack, for, they said, they heard 
him naming Mr. Strangle when the rush was made upon that 
individual by the workmen. The prisoners had no one to 
defend them— a fact chiefly due to my brother's obstinacy. He 
would not have any one to defend him, he declared, and his 
example was followed by the rest. The owner of the Hall 
accepted the evidence of the officials with avidity ; and nothing 
"was too bad for him to believe concerning the accused. 

Having heard the witnesses, he asked, as a matter of form, 
whether the prisoners had any defence to make. Of course, 
three of them had nothing to say, for they were clearly guilty 
of the offence with which they were charged ; while as to Morris 
Hughes and John Powell, they were not the most ready of 
speech, particularly in English. After a second or two's silence. 
Bob said that, speaking for himself, he was perfectly innocent of 
the charge of taking part in the attack on Mr. Strangle. Not 
only that, but he had done his best to defend the gentleman, 
and it was this he was actually doing when he was struck by 
the police officer. 

"Do you expect the Bench to believe a story of that sort, after 
all the evidence we have heard? " asked the owner of the Hall 
with a contemptuous smile. 

"I scarcely expect the Bench to believe anything I say," 
replied Bob, " for the reason that it is true. Were it of any 
use, I could biing several eye-witnesses to testify to the fact." 

"Several who were mixed up in the business, life yourself, 
doubtless," observed the magistrate with a sneer. " If we 
listened to you, you never did anything wrong, you never in 
your life told a lie. But we happen to know something of your 
history. You are one of those who want to make the masters 



126 RHYS LEWIS. 



workmen, and the workmen masters. But wait a little ! We'll 
see directly how all this speech-making pays. We have heard 
of YOU already, and we know your family, young man, before 
to-day." 

"My family has nothing to do with the charge now laid 
against me," said Bob. 

"We say it has everything to do with it," the magistrate 
reijlied. 

" If so, you had better fetch my mother here," said Bob. 

**No," returned the magistrate, "we have quite enough in 
you. We dou't want any old women here." 

" How should I know," retorted Bob, "but that you might 
like to have another on the bench." 

"None of your impertinence, young man, or you may have 
to pay for it," cried the magistrate furiously. 

Mother had many times advised Bob to learn how to hold his 
tongue; but the task was too hard for him, his excuse always 
being that his was a family failing. The owner of the Hall 
having engaged in a brief consultation with Mr. Brown, who 
listened to him in trembling deference, said : — 

" The Bench do not see any necessity for a remand in this 
case. The evidence is, to their minds, conclusive. They regret 
very much that more of the scoundrels have not been brought 
before them to receive their deserts; but the Bench are 
determined to make an example of those upon whom the police 
have laid hands. The Bench are determined to show that the 
master is to be master, and that it is a workman the workman 
is to remain. And the Bench wish to show that the colliers 
must not take the law into their own hands, and that proper 
people have been appointed to administer the law. And the 
Bench are determined to show that the law is stronger than the 
colliers, however numerous they may be. And so the Bench 
are going to sentence five of you, namely, Morris Hughes, John 
Powell, Simon Edwards, Griffith Eoberts, and John Peters to 
one month's imprisonment with hard labour, and Eobert Lewis 
to two months' imprisonment with hard labour, the Bench 
believing him to have been the chief agitator. And the Bench 
trust this will bo a warning, not only to the prisoners, but to 
others who ou<j:ht to be in the same situation with them, who are 



RHYS LEWIS. 127 



equally guilty with them, not only of creating a disturbance 
and breaking the law in this fashion, but also of poaching on 
gentlemen's estates." 

As soon as sentence was delivered, there was a general move- 
ment in court, the noise of people's feet and the talk being 
so loud, that hardly could I hear myself sobbing— which I did 
to some effect. Will sympathised with me most sincerely and 
did his best to comfort me. So poiguant was my sorrow that my 
friend was, for a minute or so, at a loss to know how to assuage 
it. Suddenly, however, a thought struck him. He handed over 
all he possessed to me, namely, his pocket knife, which, he re- 
marked with emphasis, he gave me to keep for ever. I have 
the knife to this day ; and although instrinsically not worth 
sixpence, I rank it with the mite of the widow and, valuing it 
as the sacrifice of a heart full of disinterested compassion, I 
would not for a good deal part with it. 

The interest taken in the trial was manifested by the size 
of the crowd which had by this time gathered outside the Court 
House, unwilling to disperse without a last look at the 
prisoners, as they were being conveyed to the county gaol. I 
can answer for it that the majority of the Eed Fields' workmen 
were sober, industrious, and moral ; but amongst them, as it 
commonly happens in large works, there were a number of 
worthless characters, given to excessive drinking, the pity being 
that the best class often got blamed for their misdeeds. 
Several of these latter had, on the morning in question, beer\ 
soaking about the public houses, and were not in the best of 
tempers on that account. But there, I see I am constantly 
slipping into detail, despite my promise to myself not to do so. 
How some of the colliers set fiercely upon the police who were 
conveying my brother and his associates to prison ; how the 
assailants were arrested, tried, and found guilty ; how the 
military were called out, were attacked and beaten ; and how, 
■under crudest provocation, they opened fire upon the rioters, 
killing several, and so on, it does not concern me to narrate. 
I can say this much, when the disturbance was at its highest, 
the feeling of the majority, which included some men of reason 
and intelligence, was in favour of the colliers ; but when thingi 
had cooled down, and opportunity was given of looking calmly 



128 RHYS LEWIS. 



at tlie circumstances, these same people were obliged to 
acknowledge the unwisdom and iniquity of the whole proceed- 
ing, and to view with apprehension the frightful lengths to 
which even sensible and religious men may be led when 
governed by their passions, instead of by reason and grace. 

I remember that I was afraid to go home, because of the 
shock to mother's feelings which this shame would produce. I 
knew someone had already notified her of my brother's fate, 
and I feared it would be her death. But in this I was 
agreeably disappointed. Dear is the memory of that day to me, 
for the proof it afforded of what true religion can bring its 
owner in time of tribulation. Going into the house, I met, 
coming out of it, two female neighbours, who had been con- 
doling with mother, on whose face I found signs of heavy 
weeping. The smile it now wore was as a rainbow in the clouds, 
after a heavy shower, and proved clearly that God had not for- 
gotten his covenant with her. I think I can accurately recollect 
all she said to me that afternoon. Among other things, these : — 

"Well, my son, it is getting worse and worse with us. 
Something tells me, however, that the light will come soon. 
The darker the night the nearer the dawn; the tighter the 
cord the sooner 'twill break. The Lord, I shall believe, has a 
hand in this. The furnace must, occasionally, be seven times 
heated before the form of the Fourth can come to sight. I 
never dreamt it would go so hard with your brother, but J 
think none the less of him, for all that has taken place. I know 
he is innocent, for he never told me a lie in his life. There are 
a hundred times worse than he now at large. From a child he 
was too ready with his tongue, and all the bother I had 
with him was when he would be telling too much of the truth. 
He was a little too decided of purpose ; that was why he left 
the Society. But he led a better life than many of us who 
profess. Who knows but that the Great King's design, through 
all, has been to bring him back, and to show him how he haa 
lost the shelter and the defence." 

I have noticed since, that the mother, when her son is over- 
taken by disgrace, as well as when he is overtaken by death, 
forgets his every fault and delights only in bringing up his 
virtues. 



RHYS LEJVIS. 129 



" It -would be very difficult for me to believe," my mother 
added, "that Bob was not a Christian. If he is not in the 
bouse, he belongs to the family, I am pretty certain, and per- 
adventure it is from the far-oflF country of the prison that the 
yearning will arise in him for his Father. How did he look, tell 
me? Middling well? Yes? It's wonderful how he can take 
eYerything so composedly. I know what is uppermost in his 
m.ind, and that is, what'll become of us both, how are we to live, 
because there never was a lad who thought more of his mother, 
my poor darling ! " 

Upon this she burst out crying, a proceeding at which I 
helped. After quieting, she said :— 

"Do they have a Bible in jail, tell me? They have ? I'm 
glad to hear it ; but, for that matter. Bob knows enough of the 
Bible to chew the cud upon, for two months, anyhow. What 
vexes me most is that I never had a look at him. It seemed a bit 
cold of me that I did not go to the Hall, but I could not for the 
life of me set out, somehow. Do you tliink he'd get a letter if 
we were to write ? You do? Well then, I'll not sleep to-night 
until you've sent him a word. I'm glad you're a bit of a 
scholar, because I don't want all the world to know our affairs." 

I was then obliged to set to and write a letter. At my 
mother's suggestion, I wrote it first on the unused leaf of a 
copy book, " For fear," she said, " we might want to alter it." 
The original is still in my possession, and perhaps I can't do 
better than finish this chapter with a transcript. There is nothing 
particular in its contents, what makes it precious to me being 
the proof it affords of my mother's acquaintance with the Bible. 
I give it exactly as she dictated it, with the exception of a few 
changes in the colloquialisms where the meaning is not quite 
clear. 

"Dear Son, — I write you these few lines hoping you are 
quite well as it leaves us at present. I feel mixed and 
moithered very much, and I know you're the same. My com- 
plaint to-day is bitter — Job twenty third and second. But who 
is he that saith and it cometh to pass when the Lord com- 
mandeth it not— Lamentations, thii'd and thirty seventh. I 
know very well you'll be troubling your mind about us as we 
are about you ; but I hope you know where to turn, as you said 



I30 J^BYS LEWIS. 



I did wlien you were leaving the house on Saturday night. 
And call upon me in the day of trouble ; I will deliver thee, 
and thou shalt glorify me— Psalms, fiftieth and fifteenth. li 
I'm not deceiving myself much, I think I've had a fulfilment ot 
that promise to-day. Dear son, I fear greatly you will let your 
spirits go down and lose your health, because you've been 
wrongfully put in prison. Perhaps it'll be some comfort to you 
to call to mind those spoken of in Scripter who were wrongly 
put in prison like yourself, and the Lord showed afterwards 
that they did not deserve to bo there. If you have leisure turn 
to the following :— Genesis thirty-ninth, Acts fifth, eighth and 
sixteenth. Eemember also it was from prison and from judg- 
ment that He was t£&en — Isaiah fifty-third and eighth. You 
know the trouble I got with your father ; the trouble to-day is 
very different. I'm pretty sure that even if you were a little 
amiss you were quite honest, and that your conscience is easy, 
as you said; and, if that is anything for you to think of, though 
you are in jail you're not an atom the worse in your mother's 
eyes, and I hope you're no worse in your Eedeemer's eyes 
either. Same time, I much hope you'll now come to see you 
have offended the Man of the house by leaving the Society, 
and though I believe you're not at any time strange to the great 
things of the Gospel, I trust I shall see you, when all this is 
over, turning your face towards the shelter. Dear son, the wind 
is high and the waves are rising, but if through that we are 
brought to call on the Master to save us, all will be well. Eead 
Luke eighth and the eighth of Eomans. If Morris Hughes and 
yourself are put with each other, it'll be no harm in the world it 
you gave a tune now and then, as Paul and Silas did of old, and 
I know of no better verse for you than Ann Griffis's : — 

' To be alive, how great the wonder. 
In the furnaces so hot ! ' 

You know how it finishes, and who can tell but that you'll get 
inspiration by singing of the Man whose fan is in his hand. I 
have a lot of things I would like to tell you ; but I must come 
to an end. Keep your spirits up ; two months is not much ; 
it'll be over very soon. Pray night and day ; if they stop you 
from reading, nobody can stop you from praying. In my mind 



RHYS LEWIS. 131 



you Trere a good enough boy before, but for one thiig; br.t 
something tells me you'll be a better man than ever alter the 
present trouble. We wish to be remembered to you very 
warmly. This in short from your loving mother and brother, 

Mary A^^) Ehys Lewis." 
After I had re-written the foregoing, and read it to mother 
many times over, I put it carefully into an envelope, and 
addressed it. Mother made me write "Haste" on one corner, 
and, inasmuch as she had not much faith in gum, she insisted 
on the addition of red wax, which she sealed with her thimble. 
When all was done, she appeared calm and resigned to the 
decrees of Providence. The manner in which my brother's im- 
prisonment afiected our worldly circumstances, and marked au 
epoch in my history will be shown in the next chapter. 



CHAPTER XVII I. 

THOilAS AND BARBARA BARTLEY. 

On looking back upon the time of boyhood, I become alive to 
the fact that it went by without my enjoying but little of the 
careless blithesomeness which falls to the lot of nearly every 
lad, no matter what the station of his family. Even before I 
got to know want or trouble at home, my mother's Puritanical 
austerity set bounds upon my play, numbered my companions, 
and limited my enjoyment. Some sort of knowledge of "the 
Pall of Man," " the Two Covenants," and similar subjects, was 
dinned into my head when I ought to have been playing 
marbles. While those of like age were " hunting the hare," I 
would be kept at home to learn portions of the great Psalm. No 
wonder I was the worst at a game of any in Soldier Eobin's school, 
and that even the girls made fun of me. I would not, for any- 
thing I ever saw, say a disrespectful word of my mother, for I 
"believe her intentions to have been pure as a sunbeam. But I 
fear that to her ignorance is to be attributed my bodily weak- 
ness, the sadness and the depression of spirit I am so subject 
to, and which, by this time, sits as a disease upon me. Before 



132 RHYS LEWIS. 



I could rejoice in tlie innocence of youth, I was being grounded 
in particulars of the estate my father Adam had left me, taught 
the ins and outs of my depraved heart, and the tricks and wiles 
of the old gentleman who goes about like a roaring lion. In a 
word, the dark side of human nature had been portrayed to me 
with all the hideous deformity my mother's gifts enabled her to 
bring to bear upon the work. The teaching had its effect ; and, 
by this time, I do not wonder my companions got to call me 
*' the old man." 

I was thirteen when my brother was sent to prison ; but it 
was not as a boy of that age I felt the shame and grief of the 
occurrence. It was no day-and-night's trouble, to be cured 
on the morrow by the cheerfulness of sportive comrades. 
Sorrow filled my soul and bred a worm in my heart that not 
even my faithful, merry friend Will Bryan could kill. I cannot 
easily describe my state of mind. It was a mixture of genuine 
sympathy with my brother in his sufferings, a deep conviction 
of his innocence and an increasing admiration of his character. 
I must confess to a wounded pride, a spirit of revenge, and a 
disposition to quarrel with the decrees of Providence. I know 
quite well that I was not in a proper frame of mind ; because 
when I heard that, on the day following the one on which my 
brother and his associates were sent to prison, a frightful havoc 
had been played with the Hall owner's game, I felt delighted, 
although I dared not say as much to mother. The sense of 
vacancy to which my brother's absence gave rise was almost as 
painful as the circumstances which had occasioned that absence 
itself. Without him our home was like a body without a soul, 
the want of life affecting one as strangely as if he had been for 
hours in a mill, and found all its wheels coming to a sudden stop. 
I missed his manly presence, his resonant voice, and ready wit, 
and home was no longer home to me. Although she did not say 
BO, I knew my mother felt the same. In the course of a single day 
the colour and aspect of her face changed. The remnants of its 
youthful bloom vanished, never to return ; and beneath the 
eyes of blue did Adversity leave the imprint of his name in 
biackletter. Often during the day did she go to the door, 
looking out each time in the same direction, as if hoping against 
hope to see her boy return. So deeply convinced was she of his 



J^HYS LEWIS. 133 



innocence and the injustice of his imprisonment, that I am not 
sure she did not rather expect some supernatural intervention 
for his release. I do not know whether it was force of habit, or 
something else, which made her, at meals, prepare for three of 
us; but I saw her more than once, as at tea time, laying three 
cups upon the table, and, perceiying her mistake, secretly 
putting one of them away again, thinking I had not observed 
her. I could note down many other little things she did, as 
showing her dreamy absent-mindedness. All my brother's 
belongings were laid under tribute to her condition. She would 
wipe the dust from his English books, against which she had 
been strongly prejudiced previously, and frequently turn the 
leaves, although she understood not a word they contained. I 
fancy I was perfectly cognisant of the state of her feelings, 
although I cannot now convey it in words. Hers was no surface 
trouble, but one reaching down into the depths of the soul 
and carrying with it a whole host of the painful associations. 
And yet it was not a hopeless sorrow that she suffered, either; 
but a sadness, rather, which seemed to span the distance from 
the abyss of affliction up to a firm faith in Him who rules over 
all. She read her Bible a good deal, and spoke cheerfully ; but 
I knew it cost her a great effort to do so. 

As on the preceding day. Thomas and Barbara Bartley were 
the first to visit us ; and I felt very thankful for their kindness. 
As I have already remarked, they were a couple of simple, 
harmless old souls. They appeared to me to be wonderfully 
happy, always. In addition to being suitably matched as 
husband and wife, there was a similarity both of feature and 
mind between them. Whatever Thomas might say, Barbara, 
with a nod, would cor^firm; and whatever Barbara said, Thomas 
would seal with a " To be shwar." They were like two eyes on 
one string, at all times looking the same way. Small was the 
circle of their lives, and the amount of their knowledge about 
the same. Planting a potato patch and killing a pig, ten score 
weight, were the two poles on which iheir little world made its 
annual revolution. It seemed as if Providence, in drafting a 
scheme of life, had forgotten to set down trouble or trial against 
the names of Thomas and Barbara Bartley, with the exception of 
tne death of their son Seth, and even that appeared as if it were 



134 RHYS LEWIS. 



A mistake, for it turned out a means of perfecting their 
happine&s. Thomas hnd a great name as a mender of shoes, and 
was never short of work. He was also considered an excellent 
neighbour. He was not a total abstainer, but he never got 
drunk, save on special occasions, such as Whit-Monday, when 
his club walked. But even on those occasions, Barbara would 
not admit he was drunk— he had only *' taken a drop." Both 
believed they had good hearts and that to live honestly was 
quite enough of religion. And they, doubtless, did live up to 
their professions, for it was never heard of Thomas and Barbara 
that they had ** subverted a man in his cause," or of the first 
named that he had put bad work into a shoe. Theirs was not 
merely a cold and formal honesty, either. None so ready as 
they to do kindnesses, for which, it is probable, they took credit 
as for works of supererogation. In passing, I may say that I 
have, in the course of my short life, met with people of higher 
spiritual pretensions with whom it were well had their religion 
come up to that of Thomas and Barbara Bartley. But this is 
what I was about to relate — the two old folk came to visit us in 
our trouble, and we had a long talk, too long for me to repeat. 
Let the few words following serve as a sample of the whole. 
After they had sat down, said Thomas : — 

•' Well Mary Lewis, you be in a bit of a bother, ben't you ? 
I'm sorry in my heart for you." 

Barbara gave a nod which meant ** ditto." 

'• I am so, Thomas bach," replied my mother, *'and I'm very 
much obliged to you for your sympathy. His way is in the sea, 
and His path in the great waters. Clouds and darkness en- 
compass Him— but He knows ." 

"Hold on a bit, Mary/ac/i," said Thomas, "you are wrong 
there. Isn't it to jail poor Bob's gone? Not over the sea at 
all— not transported. You've got your head in the ash-pit over 
this, and you fancy things to be worse'n they are. Save us ! 
The boy never went near the sea." 

' ' I know that, well enough, Thomas. It's of the Great King's 
government I'm speaking," returned my mother. 

"Ho! say so, Mary," said Thomas. " Barbara nor I can't 
lead, you see, and so we don't know much about the Great 
King ; and, to say the truth, we never speak of Him, 'cept by 



I^IJYS LEWIS, 135 



fliao.ce, when somebody dies or gets killed— for fear we'd make 
a mistake you know." 

Barbara nodded, to signify her husband was quite right. 

** I am sorry to hear that, Thomas," said mother. "We 
ought all to think and speak a deal about the Great King, inas- 
much as it is in Him we live, move and have our being. 
This is how the Psalmist says, Thomas : — * My meditation of 
Him shall be sweet.' And in another place he says, ' Evening 
and morning and at noon will I pray and cry aloud, and he 
shall hear my voice.' And if we were more like the Psalmist, 
we would be nearer the mark, Thomas hach." 

" "Well in-deed, Mary, Barbara and I try to live as near the 
mark as we can ; don't we, Barbara ?" 

Barbara gave a confirmatory nod. 

" I know that as far as living honestly goes, you are all right 
enough," said mother. "But religion teaches us that some- 
thing more is wanted, before we can enter into the life, Thomas 
hachr 

" But what can we do more than live honest, Mary ? I have 
a good heart, I'll take my oath, and I d rather do a kindness 
than refuse, if it's in my power, wouldn't I, Barbara? (Nod.) 
And I never bear anyone a grudge, do I, Barbara? (Nod.) And 
as to religion, I see you religious ones worse off nor anybody. 
Here's you, Mary Lewis, you have been professin' since I can 
remember you, and always talking about religion, the Great 
King, the other world, and things like that, but who has met 
with more trouble nor you ? One would think you'd had 
enough trouble with your husband, and here you are again, over 
head and ears in it. And there's Bob— one of the tidiest boys 
that ever wore a Blucher— when he came over to have his boots 
mended, always speaking of religion, and there he is to-day 
worse off nor anybody. I told Bob that if religion is a thing of 
that sort, I can't un'stand the Great King at all. I'm constantly 
eeein' you in trouble, with your heads in your feathers." 

"Eeligion does not promise to keep man from his trials, 
Thomas," remarked my mother. "And I don't know but what 
there may be a little truth in what you say, that religious 
people are oftener afflicted than others. * Thou who hast 
shown me gre^t and sore troubles,' says the Psalmist. ' In the 



136 RBYS LEWIS. 

world ye shall have tribulation,' said the Saviour. And Paul, 
in the Acts, says that * we must, through much tribulation, 
enter into the kingdom of God.' The great thing for you and 
me Thomas, is that these tribulations so sanctify us that we 
are able to see the hand of the Lord in them all, and that we do 
not let our spirits siuk in too much sorrow." 

"They do tell me, Mary," said Thomas, "there's nothin* 
better to rise the spirits than— what do they call it? The 
thing they sell in the druggist's shop— what's its name, 
Barbara ? " 

" Assiffeta," replied Barbara. 

" To be shwar," said Thomas. " If you take a penn'orth of 
'siffeta, a penn'orth of yellow janders drops, and a penn'orth of 
tenty rhiwbob, there's nothing in the world better for risin' your 
spirits, they do say. I never tried it myself— 'twas a drop of 
beer I took for my grief after Seth, and it did me a power of 
good. I could cry very much better after it ; and I shouldn't 
wonder if it did you good, too, Mary. Barbara wanted to put 
a drop in her pocket for you, but I told her you wouldn't take 
it— you religious folk are so odd in things of that sort." 

"I hope, Thomas," said mother, "that I have, by this time, 
got to know a better receipt for raising spirits than anything 
sold in the druggist's shop or the public house. To my mind, 
Thomas, nothing but Gilead balm and Calvary ointment can 
raise the afflicted spirit." 

" Very true. I hope it isn't expensive. The same thing 'ont 
cure everybody, and I always say so, as Barbara knows," was 
Thomas's reply. 

" You don't understand me, Thomas," said mother. " What 
I mean is this— the only thing that can raise an afflicted spirit 
is the sweet and precious promise of the Bible, a knowledge of 
God in Christ, reconciling the world to Him without taking into 
account their sins, and a reliance of soul in the dear death on 
Calvary. I should have been glad had your son's decease led 
you and Barbara within sound of the Gospel, and had you 
sought consolation in its truths instead of trying to drown your 
sorrows in intoxicating and worthless drink, Thomas bach,'' 

" Do you know what, Mary ? " said Thomas. " If you only 
belonged to the Ranters, you'd make a champion preacher. 



RHYS LEWIS. 137 



But I can't agree with you about the drink. Tou know more 
than me, I'll allow, but doesn't the Bible call it strong drink?" 

"It does, sure," replied mother. 

'* So James Pulford, the tailor, says; and the Bible would 
never have called it strong drink if it didn't strengthen a man," 
declared Thomas. 

" It is so strong that it'll knock you down, Thomas, if you 
don't take great care," mother observed, adding: "seriously, 
Thomas lach, isn't it time that Barbara and you should begin 
to think about your souls ? You are getting old now, and do 
you never long to come and hear the Gospel ? Don't you think 
it high time for you both to inquire after that Friend whom you 
and I will stand in need of before long, if we are not to be 
wretched for ever. I am making very bold with you, but you 
know it is your own good I have in view. My dear, good old 
neighbours, I have thought a deal about you, and tried to 
pray for you. How good the Great King has been to you ! 
How well, how happy, what a comfort to each other you have 
been during the years I Will it not be a great pity, Thomas 
hach, if you are both left behind at the last. You would like, I 
know, to see Seth once again, and be with him evermore. 
Well, there is no doubt in my mind that Seth is safe in the 
midst of Heaven. *The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not 
err.' Do you remember what he said to the boy here when 
dying— that he was ' going afar, afar, to the great chapel of 
Jesus Christ.' And he has gone there, sure to you. But then 
Seth came to chapel, Thomas; he never missed a service, poor 
dear I And although we took no notice of him, and thought he 
did not understand what was going on, Seth was making his 
fortune : he found the pearl of great price, which was worth his 
life to him. There are more pearls in the same field, Thomas ; 
and you, my dear neighbour, must attend the means of grace, 
or you'll never go to the same place as Seth." 

These last words had an electrical effect upon Thomas and 
Barbara. Thomas, overcome with feeling, stared straight into 
the ash-pit, great tears rolling down his cheeks and dropping 
upon his spotless cord trousers. Barbara rubbed her nose and 
eyes with her check apron, and it was with difficulty she re- 
strained a sob when mother spoke of Seth dyin(». Mother saw 



138 RHYS LEWIS. 



the iron was hot, and set about in earnest beating it with that 
old sledge-hammer of the Scripture in the use of which she 
was so dexterous. To pursue the metaphor, she turned their 
hearts this way and that upon her anvil, until I fancied 
they had neither a side nor an aspect from which she had not 
struck a living spark. It is not because she was my mother 
that I say so, nor am I exaggerating when I say it, but I never 
knew her let an opportunity slip of giving a piece of advice, or 
a verse from the Bible to those whom she thought without 
religion, if she saw it would be of advantage so to do. As in 
the present circumstances, she forgot her own trouble in her 
eagerness to find some word likely to stick to the heart and 
conscience of one whom she fancied, to use her own expression, 
to be "careless about the welfare of his soul." When I con- 
sider how neglectful I myself am in this matter, I am ashamed 
to remember that I am my mothers son. 

I had seen, for some time, that Thomas was growing very 
uneasy, and anxious to get away. M<jther took the hint. 
Directly she ceased evangelising, Thomas gave a heavy sigh, and 
rose nervously to his feet, saying, in a half- choked voice : — 

" Barbara, we must go home, look you. What have you got 
in the basket there ? " 

Handing the contents to my mother, he said : — 

" Champion stuff, Mary. Fed on taters and oatmeal. Never 
had a single grain. Don't mention it! Don't mention it! 
You're heartily welcome. Have you any taters in the house ? 
If you send Rhys over to-morrow, I'll give you a few of the 
best pink eyes you ever tasted. They eat like flour." 

"Thomas hach,'" said mother, taking hold of his coat, "you've 
always been wonderfully kind ; but be kind to your soul, now. 
Will yo J promise me you'll come to chapel next Sunday ? 
You'll never repent it." 

Thomas cast his eyes upon the ground, and, after a second or 
two's silence, said : " Mary, if all the preachers spoke as plain 
as you, I'd come to chapel every Sunday. But, to tell the truth 
to you, I can't und'stand 'em— they always talk of something, 
I don't know what." 

"Will you promise, Thomas hach^ to bring Barbara to chapel 



RHYS LEWIS. 139 



-witli you ? The light will come, if you only will," said mother, 
holding more tightly by the lapel. 

" What do you say, Barbara ? " asked Thomas. 

Barbara having given a nod of assent, Thomas added: — 

" Well, name of goodness, we'll come. Good night, and God 
be with you." 

After they had left did mother set to admiring the piece of 
bacon? Not much! She had found a piece of something 
daintier by a good deal. 

'*Isee it, Ehys ! she exclaimed, joyfully. "1 see it now I 
Bob was sent to prison so that Thomas and Barbara Bartley 
might be saved ! ' His way is in the sea,' " &c. 

Well, it was not of Thomas and Barbara Bartley I intended 
speaking when I began the present chapter, but I see " it is not 
in man that walketh to direct his steps " in this, as in other 
-things. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

ABEL HUGHES. 

It might be thought that all who have paid a little attention to 
men and their habits, have observed, among others, the three 
classes following. First, those who have once been almost 
entirely under the sway of the Devil and their own evil 
dispositions, but who, through some irood fortune, have been 
brought under the divine influence of the Gospel, and have found 
mercy— '* the former things have passed away, and behold all 
things are made new." Their passions are held in control, 
their hearts and course of life changed, and even their con- 
sciences, as it were, saying ever of the Evil One, "he hath 
nothing in me." What a heavenly beauty distinguishes this 
section of my fellow men ! Then again there is the other class, 
with whose hearts religion has something to do, and who them- 
selves have something to do with religion, but the signs are 
]»alpable that the Prince of this World has something to do with 
them, also. On particular occasions the cloven hoof comes to 



I40 RHYS LEWIS. 



sight. They appear as if both heaven and hell laid claim to 
them. And yet, when we hear them pray and tell their ex- 
periences, we are, like a jury trying a man for his life, very 
ready to give them the benefit of the doubt. The important 
thing for them and for me to remember is that there will be no 
doubt as to our characters in the great day to come. Then 
there is the third class: those who profess no connection of any 
kind with religion, but in whose mode of life there are, yet, a 
great many virtues. They are honest, straightforward, amiable, 
and obliging, kind towards both man and beast, and would 
sooner wrong themselves than wrong anyone else. Their 
innocence is as a remnant of the stuff from which our first 
parents were made. As already said, they are not religious in 
the accepted sense of the term, and yet there are many of 
religion's fruits growing upon them. They have not sullied 
their conscience with impious acts, nor read or thought enough 
to cause uneasiness and doubt, and so are pretty happy. To 
me, there is a great attraction about this class of people, and 
there have been times when I have envied their lot. 

To this last category belonged Thomas and Barbara Bartley, 
but it was possibly their kindness towards mother and me in our 
trouble, which made me, in after days, look upon their like with 
interest and admiration. While we were in that family distress I 
have already described, I remember wondering greatly at the 
lukewarmness displayed by the officers of the church of which 
my mother was no obscure member, and comparing it to the 
ready kindness and sympathy of Thomas and Barbara Bartley. 
I could not help communicating what I had noticed to mother, 
who, however, would on no account have me entertain a poor 
opinion of our leaders. Conformably to her usual mode of 
speech, she said : — 

"This is quite in the order of things, my son. There is 
something which causes the brethren to behave a little coldly 
towards us. Perhaps the Great Ruler is keeping the best wine 
until the last. If we are fit objects of succour, the Head of the 
Church will take care of us in His own good time." 

I had not to wait long before finding that my mother was 
pretty near the right ; for, early on the following morning, w& 
were visited by our revered old deacon, Abel Hughes, of whom^ 



RHYS LEWIS, 141 



I have already had occasion, more than once, to speak. Were 
it his biography, and not my own, I was writing, I should 
have a great many interesting things to tell about him. I 
flatter myself I have marched with the times pretty closely, 
considering my disadvantages. But somehow, old-fashioned 
notions, formed -^hen I was a boy, will cling to me, spite of 
myself. I am almost ashamed to own them, but for the life of 
me, I cannot eliminate them from my mind. Were I asked by 
some young man from an English town for my views on this 
subject or that, I should give them easily and honestly ; but 
underneath them all I know there would arise others of a very 
different kind, formed long ago, and impossible to get rid of. 
One of these is my notion of a church deacon. Is not Theophilus 
Watkin, Esq., of PlasUchaf, who, by incomparable management 
of the world, made his fortune in a very short time, who lives 
and dresses in a style becoming his exalted station, who keeps 
a liveried servant and takes his wife and daughters in full dress 
to all the principal concerts— is not he an ornament to the big 
seat of the Methodist Chapel at Highways ? Is he not liberal 
to the cause, generous to the poor of the church, does he not 
respect and hospitably entertain the ministers of the Word ? 
True, he never goes to the Monthly Meeting, and is absent a 
good deal from Sunday School ; but then we should remember 
his position, and the society in which he moves. He is zealous 
for the pastorate, and humble and self-denying at Church 
Meetings, where he allows the minister to do all the speaking. 
Is he not a worthy official, and a great acquisition to the cause? 
Yes, exceptionally so, and I feel proud of him. Again, there is 
Alexander Phillips (" Eos Prydain,") the hard-working young 
choir-leader, expert in the business of looking after the church 
books, ready at planning and getting up a concert, trim in 
appearance— is he not a very admirable man? He, too, is a 
little reserved in the Society, but it would be almost impossible 
the brethren could hold a tea party, or get up a competitive 
meeting without the aid of his invaluable services. An agree- 
able man, fond of his joke, but of proper behaviour always. 
Take him through and through, he is of admirable use to the 
cause, and is considered by the multitude, myself included, a 
good deacon. And yet my antiquated notion will whisper to 



142 RHYS LFAVIS. 



me that they are not the meu I have named who come up to the 
diaconal standard. The type and pattern which this notion 
persists in placing before my mind is to be found in Abel 
Hughea. 

He was a man of this kind : somewhat advanced in years, 
wearing knee-breeches, dark coat and vest, a black kerchief, 
tied several times about the neck, a broad-brimmed, low- 
crowned beaver hat, the face clean shaved up to within half an 
inch of each ear, whence depended a tiny lock, and the hair cut 
parallel with the heavy brows which overlooked a thoughtful 
face. This is one side of the picture. It has another : a man 
strong in the Scriptures, well versed in, and an earnest enforcer 
of, the teachings of the Gospel, loyal to Monthly Meeting 
and Association, constant at service, of ready and original views, 
inspiring and tear-compelling when upon his knees, whether at 
prayer meeting or commencing service for the preacher ; pre- 
cise, almost to the point of harshness in the matter of church 
discipline, but tender hearted and pious-dispositior.ed ; blame- 
less in life, an enemy of vain show and frivolity, one who 
expected all who belonged to church, yea, even the chilJi\^n, to 
behave seriously and with decorum. Such was Ibel Hughes, 
and it was he who first gave me a notion of the sort of man a 
deacon should be, a notion which, however erroneous, remajns 
embedded in the depths of my consciousness. Eeason disposes 
me to believe that the model deacon is to be found between Abel 
Hughes and some people who are called deacons in these days, 
but who are no more than ministers' lodginghouse keepers, 
or clerks of the church. In Abel Hughes, mother saw a man 
almost without fault, and that, very likely, because her ideas of 
the world and its ways, of religion and its doctrines, were about 
on a level. Both deacon and member ate the same spiritual 
food, drank the same spiritual wine, and irequently exchanged 
notes on the subject of practical religion. In chapel, as at the 
house, they were most unassuming and homely ; and, after tho 
manner of old people, never addressed each other as Mr. and Mrs. 

I know very well there was no one mother, in her trouble, 
would have more wished to see than Abel Hughes, and nothing 
would have pleased me better than to have been able to 
chronicle fully the talk which ensued upon his visit. But I 



RHYS LEWIS. 143 



cannot. Although I have an excellent memory, and had a 
pretty long head, even at that time, I got to feel that the con- 
versation was a very different one from that with Thomas 
Bartley, and that much of it was above my comprehension. At 
the same time, I am not willing to pass on without an effort to 
commemorate at least a portion of the talk, for mother said 
some things as to the value of personal religion which have 
clung to my mind. When Abel entered the house, as usual 
without knocking, mother gave him a look almost of hauteur ; 
but I perceived that there was a moisture in her eyes, and the 
working of the corners of her mouth and throat showed that she 
was obliged to summon all her energy to prevent herself from 
bursting into tears. Abel held out his hand, and said : — 

*' Well, Mary, and how are you ? " 

" Wonderfully well, considering," replied my mother. " * I 
am troubled on every side, yet not distressed ; perplexed, but 
not in despair ; cast down, but not destroyed.' " 

*' I was certain, Mary," said Abel, "you knew where to look 
for help, whatever your troubles were ; otherwise I would have 
come here sooner, very likely." 

'* Well," returned mother, "I hope I don't want much nursing. 
I'm not like the woman of the ' London House,' Abel, who 
stayed weeks away from chapel because the deacons did not 
call upon her when she had a bit of a toothache. No, do you 
think that, at my age, I haven't learned to walk ? But it 
would have been no harm in the world, Abel, had you come to 
inquire for me a little sooner, especially after all the 'quaintance 
between us ; although, mind you, if you didn't come here for a 
month I should not think any the less of you. Indeed Abel, I 
feel almost thankful you didn't come, because if you had, I 
should not catch the sight I did of the One 

' — Who above every other, 

Through the whole creation wide, 
Deserves the name of friend and brother, 

And who'll e'er the same abide. 
Against man's hard lot forlorn, 
Our Protector was he born.' 



144 RHYS LEWIS. 



Joseph, you know, Abel, caused eyery man to go out from him 
before he made himself known to his brethren ; and I rather 
hope that my present trouble is but a cup placed in the sack's 
mouth, so that I may be brought to know the Euler of the 
country." 

*' I am glad to find you in the green pastures, Mary," said 
Abel. 

"Where did you expect to find me, Abel?" asked my mother. 
•'Not out on the common, surely? After all our religious 
professions it would be hard if we found ourselves without a 
shelter on the day of storm. If 1 am not deceiving myself — 
which I fear I very often do —I have, by this time, nothing 
worth talking of but the pastures. As you know, Abel, I am 
wholly without help, aud worse off than if I were a vidow 
The son who was my sole support has been sent to gaol ' — aud 
she buried her face in her apron, quite overcome by her feelings. 

"There are in the Truth words like these, Mary," said Abel. 
*• ' I have been young, aud now am old ; and yet have I not 
seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. The 
Lord trieth the righteous, but the wicked and him that loveth 
violence, His soul hateth. Many are the afflictions of the 
righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. Light 
is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.' 
I am pretty certain, Mary, that light has been sown for you, 
though it be night with you now, and that you shall see it 
budding and sprouting in this world, even if you are not 
permitted to see it in full growth. Be of good comfort, trust in 
the Lord, and He will deliver you out of all your tribulations." 

" I try to be so, Abel, as well as I can," said mother. " But 
hearing you speak, I can't help thinking of Thomas of Naut's 
words. Thomas, I know, was not religious, but he said a great 
many good things, and I think it was he who said this one : — 

' Easy 'tis for the hale and well, 
The sick man to take comfort tell.* 

Yet I feel very thankful to you for your cheering words, and 
I've been wondering and wondering why you didn't come here 
sooner, Abel." 



RHYS LEWIS. 145 



*• I did not giye mucli thought to you, Mary," said Abel. "I 
■was sorry to miss you from chapel on the Sunday, although I 
did not expect to see you, under the circumstances. Bob was 
not a member with us, although he was more like what a 
member should be than many of us. No one had a word to say 
against his character, and he was admittedly one of the best 
teachers in Sunday School. But these strikes are very queer 
things, Mary. They have come to us from the English ; they 
are not ours, and I fear they will do much harm to the country 
and to religion. We, as brethren, considered we ought to take 
time. Bob was one of the leaders, and of necessity so, because 
for understanding and the gift of speech he stood high above them 
alL Nobody doubts his honesty of purpose ; indeed many of 
the wiser ones sympathised with the colliers in their agitation 
for an advance of wages and against the tyranny of their 
employers. But no one, with a grain of sense in his head, to 
say nothing of grace in his heart, could justify their attack upon 
the overseer, and hunting him out of the country. According 
to first accounts, Bob was one of those who were guilty of this 
act, and had I run straight hither to sympathise with you, 
someone would be found to say that we were no better than the 
agitators, the great cause would suflTer, and the excellent name 
we enjoy would we calumniated. I am happy to tell you, 
Mary, that no one, by this time, believes iu Bob's guilt, 
although he is suffering as if he were guilty. Men who were eye- 
witnesses of the whole transaction, and who can tell the truth 
as well as anybody, positively testify that he and John Powell 
strove hard to prevent the rash act. I have other good news 
for you. The men having resolutely refused to work under 
Mr. Strangle, the masters have paid him off and sent for 
Abraham, the former manager, who has entered upon his duties 
anew. The work will re-start to-morrow. For this we are in- 
debted to Mr. Walters the attorney, who succeeded in getting 
employers and workmen together and in acting as interpreter 
and arbitrator between them. I understand that had this been 
done at first, the whole trouble would have been spared ; 
because the masters have found out, by this time, it was not 
without cause Bob and his associates had complained against 
Strangle. So you see Mary, that things are not so bad after ail.'* 

K 



146 RHYS LEWIS, 



** So, they'll surely let Bob out of prison now that they find 
he is innocent and that all he said was correct." 

**No, I fear, Mary, we can't expect that. When the 
magistrates make a mistake, they never try to put it right. 
They are like the man who, having told a lie, thinks the best 
thing he can do is to stick to it." 

**But is it possible," mother asked, "that Mr Brown, tho 
clergyman, can go up into tbe pulpit to preach— if he does preach, 
too— of justice and mercy, after he has been upon the bench, 
assisting the owner of the Hall in administering injustice ? " 

•' He'll preach— if, to use your own expression, he doea 
preach, too— just the same, or perhaps better than ever, Mary." 

** I'll defy him to preach any worse, Abel, if I rightly 
heard him," said mother. "But where people's consciences 
are. I don't know. I am very thankful it is with religion I am, 
and not in the Church of Englaud." 

The two proceeded, for some time, to talk about religion and 
its consolations. I could see that Abel's visit was a great 
blessing to my mother. She appeared happier, not the least of 
the things which made her so being Abel's declaration that no 
one now believed in Bob's guilt. Yery soon, however, she and 
I got to know it was impossible to live on happy feelings. It 
was long to wait for my brother's release. Wages having been 
brought so low under Mr. Strangle's management, mother had 
nothing at her back on which to subsist. For about three 
weeks our friends were very kind to us ; but as often happens 
in similar circumstances, time wore away the sharp edge of 
sympathy. Five weeks yet remained of Bob's imprisonment. 
Never shall I forget those weeks ! Eitiier from pride, or some 
other reason, I never confided, even to my greatest friend, that 
I, at one time, experienced a want of food. I confess it now. I 
believe it impossible any man can realise such a situation who 
has not been placed in it himself. A state of perfect health 
with the stomach filled as with voracious lions with nothing to 
appease them, is one which I cannot describe ; but I know, 
from experience, what it is to have been in it many times. 
Mother was not given to complain, and was possessed of a spirit 
of foolish independence, otherwise we need never have been 
in want. I, who had inherited her weakness, would not admit. 



RHYS LEWIS. 147 



even to Will Bryan, that I suffered the pangs of hunger. I am 
certain, however, that he guessed as much, because I saw him, 
on sundry occasions, going into the house and bringing out a 
great piece of bread and butter, or bread and meat. After a 
bite or two he would pull a wry face, and say he had no appetite 
and that he must throw the food away if I didn't take it. The 
lions raged, and rather than allow him to do that, I would accept 
it from him. Ah, "Will ! thou understoodest my proud heart as 
well as thou knewest of my empty stomach ! 

Such small things as we were able to spare, mother sold, 
taking care that the purchasers were strangers, always. She 
was terribly afraid the chapel people would get to know we 
were in such straits, for what reason I cannot tell, unless it was 
the one I have hinted, namely, a spirit of independence or false 
pride. I think she was guilty even of dissimulation on two or 
three occasions, but I hope that under the circumstances it was 
excusable. Once when we were without a single grain of food 
in the house, and after a long abstinence, we went over to 
Thomas and Barbara Bartley's, under pretence of congratulating 
them on their coming to service— a matter to which I shall have 
to refer again. I have no doubt whatever, in my own mind, 
that mother rejoiced in her heart to find the two old folk had 
begun to attend chapel ; but there was some secret understand- 
ing between us that we should not be allowed to leave Thomas 
Bartley's house without a capital meal. We went there three 
times, on one excuse and another, and not once did we come 
away fasting or empty-handed. The period is a painful one 
to speak of, and I hasten on, leaving untouched many 
incidents of distress which rise vividly before me as I write. 
One, however, I cannot pass by without particular reference. 
It was between breakfast and dinner times, that is with other 
people, breakfast time and dinner time having no special 
signification for us. We had not tasted a bit since the middle 
of the previous day. Weak and dispirited, I tried to pass the 
time reading. Mother sat by, still and meditative. Presently 
she got up, put on her bonnet, and then sat down again for a 
brief while. She got up a second time, put her cloak about her, 
and, after a little musing, sat down once more. Evidently she 
was in some deep conflict of mind. I heard her mutter some- 



148 RHYS LEWIS. 



thing of which all I could make out was ** meal" and ** bread." 
Hardly could I take in the meaning of the first word ; as to the 
last, I felt in no great need of it. After a minute or two she 
rose resolutely to her feet and fetched, from the back room, the 
recticule in which she used to carry things from the shop when 
Bob was at work. I asked her where she meant to go to. 

'•Well, my boy," she replied, **it is no use in the world 
moping about here. "We can't hold out much longer, look you, 
and they say it is the dog that goes shall get. I'll go far 
enough so that no one'll know me." 

I divined her purpose instantly, and became heart-sick at the 
thought. Placing my back against the door, I declared, with a 
loud cry, that she should not go, adding we could hold out 
until the morrow at least. It did not take much to persuade 
her. She put her basket by, and took off her cloak and 
bonnet. Having given way a little to our feelings, I fancied my 
hunger bad entirely left me and that I could go for many days 
without food. If there is one act of my life which affords me 
more satisfaction than another at this minute, it is the one by 
which I prevented mother from leaving the house, as described. 
Had I let her go, my faith in God's promises would be less than 
it is to-day. I cannot describe the pleasure which the reflection 
brings me that, despite the hard pass we were brought to, she 
was laid to rest without having ever gone out to beg. We did 
not cross the threshold that day. The hours dragged slowly 
along. When night came, we heard a loud sharp rap at the 
back door of the house, and both got up to answer it. We 
opened the door, but, there being no one in sight, we were about 
to shut it again, when we saw something on the door-step. It 
was a small brown-paper bundle, neatly packed. On taking it 
into the house, I found my mother's name clumsily written upon 
it. The hand-writing was not unfamiliar to me. The package 
was, in one sense, like the heart of the sender — it contained a 
great many good things which brightened the face of my 
mother. And yet the mystery surrounding them made her 
pause before putting them to use. Next moment, however, she 
said : — 

*' David, look you, once, when in want, did eat of the shew- 
bread, and the Saviour afterwards justified him for so doing. 



RHYS LEWIS. 149 

And although we know about as much as the mountain-gate 
where these good things have come from, I don't think we shall 
be doing wrong in using them." 

Inasmuch as she never asked me could I guess, I did not 
give her the slightest hint whence the package came. Had 
I done so, I question whether she would have touched the 
contents, for I strongly suspected that the sender bad not 
acquired them honestly. 

My noble friend ! I know very well thou would'st have shared 
the last bit with me, and that, although thou did'st not after- 
wards mention that parcel to me, nor I to thee, I was as certain 
thou wert the sender as I am that it was from thy hand I 
received the bread and butter of the previous day. 



CHAPTER XX. 

THE YICAR OF THE PARISH. 

I HAVE said that mother possessed a sort of foolish pride and 
independence of mind, and that had she been more pliable and 
clamorous, we need not have sufiered much destitution. I 
fear I must confess, also, to seeing her once— only once— guilty 
of rudeness, and of speaking to a gentleman of position as if she 
were his equal, when in reality she was in want of the daily 
necessaries of life. I trust I shall be forgiven by those friends 
into whose hands this autobiography may fall— and the more 
readily because, by that time, the earth, a yard deep, will be 
covering my face— for believing that mine was the best mother 
in the world. But I should be dissembling, and unfaithful to 
my promise of telling the truth and the whole truth, did I hide 
her weaknesses. She was a woman of warm temper and strong 
feeling, and, I rather fancy, gloried a little in being a '* plain 
speaker." My experience of such people is that, while they 
excel in straightforwardness, they run the risk of forgetting the 
feelings of others and of showing a want of that suavity and 
good taste which should adorn the character of every true 
Christian. 



I50 RHYS LEWIS. 



In a small, quiet place, the "Vicar of the parish," is at no 
time an inconsiderable personage. It often happens that there 
is a readiness, or an over-readiness, to acknowledge the im- 
portance of the fortunate occupant of the Vicarage. His 
irremovability from office has possibly a tendency to cause the 
Vicar, on his side, to receive, with a good grace, whatever of 
importance might be laid upon him, and sometimes a little 
more, just as he may be naturally inclined. Mr. Brown was no 
exception to the rule, and if there was a man in the town of my 
birth who was less respected than he deserved to be, that man 
was not Mr. Brown. He was a portly, double-chiuned, genial 
gentleman, and although I would on no account insinuate that 
he "walked as men," still he was, in the literal sense of the 
leord, ** carnal." He bore about his person signs that his living, 
worth seven hundred a year, had not been without its bless- 
ings. And when I say that others were benefitted by his 
comfortable circumstances, I am paying his memory a tribute 
which it rightly deserves. Never was his ear heavy to the cry 
of the needy, nor his pocket buttoned against the poor and 
afflicted. In him the widow and the orphan found a kindly 
friend— especially if they attended Church. Although Mr. 
Brown, like everybody else, was obliged to remember that aearer 
is elbow than wrist, the wrist— that is to say, the poor Dissenter 
— was not altogether forgotten. When appealed to for help, if he 
could not see his way clear to contribute from his own purse, or 
from those legacies left him " as long as water ran," by the de- 
parted whose names appeared on the walls of the church, he would 
invariably say a good word for the applicants to some guardian 
or other, so as to secure them a few pence from the parish. If 
anybody wanted a letter of recommendation, it was to Mr. Brown 
he went for it. No town's movement, of any consequence, 
was complete if Mr. Brown's name did not figure in connection 
therewith. However severe their rheumatism, the shaking old 
man and the bent old woman, must dofi" the hat and curtsey to 
Mr. Brown when they met him. Those idlers and loafers who 
hang around street corners, whose means of living no man 
knows, when they saw Mr. Brown, ceased their funning, hid 
their cutty- pipes in their palms and touched their hats to 
him as he went by. There was some kind of winsomeuess. 



RHYS LEWIS, 151 

distinction, charm, I hardly know what to call it, about Mr. 
Brown's manner at all times. I fancy everybody, at the time, 
was as much capable of describing the thing as I am now. It 
was somethinf^ in the air which influenced all, aye, even the 
Dissenters. I remember Mr. Brown once honouring a Bible 
Society meeting with his presence. When he came in, never was 
there such a clapping of hands and stamping of feet heard. 
Some people, forgetting where they were, in the joy of the 
moment, exerted themselves until they were fairly out of breath. 
It is a fact that several Dissenters, to say nothing of Church 
folk, shed tears of joy on the occasion ; the reason for such an 
extraordinary manifestation of feeling, doubtless, being a 
sincere respect for the good old Book, coupled with the know- 
ledge that a gentleman of Mr. Brown's rank and position had 
been secured as a patron for that Society whose object it is to 
give 

•• A Bible to all the people of the world." 

Mr. Brown said but little at the meeting (he never could with- 
out a book), but he was there, and that spoke volumes, a fact 
which made some people, who thought they could read the 
signs of the times, rather fancy that the millenium was not 
far off. 

For all this, Mr. Brown himself was an unassuming man, the 
deference paid to whom would have made many another lose his 
head. Even his warmest admiiers admitted he had one draw- 
back— he could not preach. His delivery was slow and painful, 
but, like a wise man, he took care never, at any time, to tire his 
hearers with verbosity. He had a habit, when in the pulpit, of 
turning up the whites of his eyes, which was to some people 
**as good as a sermon." Besides, his shortcomings in the 
pulpit were made up, possibly more than made up, by the fact 
that he was a justice of the peace, which character gave him an 
influence over some whom he could never have reached within 
the walls of the church. ' ' Ned the Poacher," seeing him on the 
street, would " make sly eyes" at Mr. Brown, and it was easy 
to read in his face the consciousness of an unusual width of 
pocket in the skirts of his velvet coat. " Druuken Tom," too 
blind to see anyone else, would perceive Mr. Brown from afar, 



152 RHYS LEWIS. 



and after a stagger and a glance through his half-open eyes, as 
throu.^'h a mist, would make a desperate attempt to walk straight 
until Mr. Brown had passed. Had he not, in his magisterial 
character, come into contact with these gentry on Monday 
mornings in the County Hall, Mr. Brown's influence with them 
would have been nil. Not to be too minute, Mr. Brown was 
a man of considerable importance amongst all classes, and it 
was said of him that he feared no one but the owner of the HalL 
I am forced to conclude that Mr. Brown was pretty much what 
he ought to be, or mother would never have esteemed him so 
highly; because, as I have more than once intimated, her 
prejudice against Church of England people was something 
awful. As to Mr. Brown, I heard her praise him many times, 
only she always took care to qualify the eulogy by the remark 
— "as a neighbour." It was ** as a neighbour " alone she gave 
him a good word. In speaking of religion, she unhesitatingly 
expressed her fear that Mr. Brown had not " proved the great 
things." One observation of hers, with regard to him, I shall 
never forget. She happened to be talking to Margaret Peters, 
who was a Churchwoman, in praise of a Methodist preacher, 
when Margaret said, •' Our Mr. Brown is a very good man, 
only he is not much of a hand at preaching." To which my 
mother replied : — "That's exactly the same, Margaret, as if you 
were to say James Pulford is a very good tailor, only he can't 
stitch." Margaret must have felt the force of the observation, 
for, as they sometimes say in the House of Commons, " the 
subject then dropped." 

As might have been expected, the conviction and sentence of 
my brother Bob by Mr. Brown and the owner of the Hall, did 
not increase my mother's respect for the former. She considered 
the magistrates had manifested a want of judgment and an un- 
pardonable haste. Whether it was his concern for us as his 
parishioners, or a consciousness of shame for the part he 
had taken in the trial, that brought the reverend gentleman on 
a visit to ua, I cannot, for certain, say. Very willing am I to 
place the best construction upon his conduct and to believe 
that his motive was pure and praiseworthy. When I call that 
visit to mind, I become ashamed of the reception mother gave 
our visitor, especially when I consider the respect paid to Mr, 



RHYS LEWIS. 153 



Brown by the generality of people. Perhaps I ought to say 
that, although Mr. Brown was Welsh on his mother's side, it 
was but imperfectly he spoke our old Cymric tongue. 

"Good morning, Mrs. Lewis," said our vicar, panting for 
breath and wiping the perspiration from his red face and 
sleek, fat neck. 

" Good morning," said mother stiffly, and without the least 
attempt at a curtsey, or as much as asking him to take a seat. 
But Mr. Brown sat, unasked, upon an old chair by her side, 
which, like all the rest in our house, was so terribly ricketty 
that I dreaded every minute it would give way beneath the un- 
usual load now laid upon it, the more so because it was 
horribly uncomfortable, and creaked like an old basket. 

After a brief, painful silence, Mr. Brown said : — 

*' Very fine day, Mrs. Lewis." 

*'The day is right enough, Mr. Brown. Were everything 
like the day, no one would have cause to complain," replied 
mother drily, and taking to that old habif of pleating her apron, 
which indicated always that she had something on her mind to 
which she wanted to give utterance. 

"How do you get on, as things are now, Mrs. Lewis ? Do 
you have enough food ? " Mr. Brown asked, kindly. 

"I get on better than I deserve, and have had enough food 
to keep body and soul together; although I have no one to 
thank for it but the One who feeds the young of the raven, who 
maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth 
rain on the just and on the unjust," was mother's answer. 

"You say very good ; you 'cognise the hand of the Great 
King," observed Mr. Brown. 

" I hope I do," said mother, tartly. "But while recognising 
the Great King's hand, I can't shut my eyes to somebody else's 
hand also. Those wretched people of old who saw the hand 
of the God of Israel, knew something of Pharaoh's too." 

" Yes, very bad man, Pharaoh, Mrs. Lewis." 

"Bad enough," returned mother; "and though he was 
drowned in the Eed Sea, his children were not, more's the pity. 
There is reason to fear that some of his offspring, and of Og'8 
the king of Bashan, live to persecute God's people to this day, 
even though the Bible says that Og was utterly destroyed." 



154 RHYS LEWIS, 



**You know deal of Scripture, Mrs. Lewis," remarked Mr. 
Brown, approvingly. 

"I'm afraid, Mr. Brown," said mother, ** that like many 
more, I know a deal more than I do. ' Blessed are they that 
do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of 
life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.' " 

"We must all try keep the commandments, Mrs. Lewis, or 
we never enter into the life," said our visitor. 

"We must, as a rule of conduct," replied mother. "But 
we'll never enter into the life unless we do something more. I 
know this much of divinity, that we were shut out for ever on 
Sinai and that, if we wish to enter into the life, we must turn 
elsewhere for the foundation of our hope. That's what the 
Bible and Charles's Preceptor teach us. And I believe them , 
whatever the Common Prayer may teach. I say nothing about 
that." 

" You chapel people know nothing 'bout Common Prayer. 
Common Prayer very good book, Mrs. Lewis; same as the 
Bible," said Mr. Brown. 

" I say nothing about your Common Prayer, Mr. Brown, but 
I'll say this, that God's Book is the Bible, and I have ro fear 
in saying, further, that the next book to that is Charles' In- 
structor, and if I were to live to a hundred, no one will change 
my opinion upon the point," declared my mother vehemently. 

Mr. Brown, smiling at her simplicity, remarked : — 

" Well, we'll leave it be so, Mrs. Lewis. I do like to see 
people zealous. But what I was thinking of was, how 're you 
getting along, now Bob's in jail ? Do you have enough to eat, 
you and the boy here ? Though you don't come to Church, I 
was thinking, Mrs. Lewis, to give a bit of— of assistance to you, 
or to get a little from the parish, till Bob comes back." 

Mr. Brown spoke in a kindly tone, and I have no doubt that 
he sympathised greatly with mother and me in our distress. 
But his words touched a cord in mother's self-reliant nature 
which elicited a response I considered rude and altogether un- 
becoming towards a gentleman occupying a position and 
enjoying a respect like Mr. Brown's. I think I can remember, 
word for word, all she told him in reply. 



RHYS LEWIS. 155 



** Mr. Brown," she said, " I know only of One who can give 
-a bruise and heal it, who is able to cast down and raise np; so, 
if you came here thinking to put a plaister upon the hurt you 
gave, your errand has been in vain. A kick and a kiss I call a 
thing of that sort, Mr. Brown. After you had put my innocent- 
boy in prison, it would be very difficult for me to take any help 
from you, let my distress be what it might. Perhaps you will 
say I am making bold, and so I am; but I must speak the thing 
which is on my mind ; I'll feel easier then. I am surprised 
at you, Mr. Brown ! I used to think well of you, as a 
neighbour; but, if it makes any difference to you, you have 
gone down ten degrees in my sight. I think I know with 
whom I am speaking ; because, as Thomas of Nant said : — 

• Pi aised and reverenced worthily, 
O'er all men, the priest we see; 
But none more accurs'd than he. 
If God-guided he not be.' 

And I don't much fancy, Mr. Brown, that God guides you 
when you associate and co-operate with a man like the owner 
of the Hall, who cares for nothing on this earth but his race- 
horses, fox-hounds, and furniture." 

*' Mrs. Lewis ! Mrs. Lewis ! " remonstrated Mr. Brown. 

"My name is Mary, Mr. Brown. I'm but a poor woman, 
and I don't want to be ' mistressed,' if you please. But I tell 
you again— your place is not on the bench, hearing every 
cause, clean and dirty. A priest has quite enough to do to 
look after the souls of his congregation, if he has that work at 
heart, without meddling with other matters ; and if I were 
queen, I would say to every priest, and preacher too, for that 
matter, as the Lord said in another case— and one which it 
would be well for you and I to think more of—' What hast 
thou to do to declare my statutes ? ' That I would. Paul, before 
his conversion, was on the way to Damascus with his pockets 
stuffed with summonses for putting good men in prison ; but, 
after that great event, I warrant you he tossed them all over 
the hedge, and nobody ever heard of his sending anyone to 
gaol again ; he had better work to do by a great deal. Another 
thing, Mr. Brown, 1 don't know how you can expect a blessing, 



156 RHYS LEWIS. 



or give sleep to your eyes, or slumber unto your eyelids, Tvhen 
your heart knows, by this time, that you have hurried an 
innocent lad to gaol, one who— and it is not because I'm hi& 
mother I say so — has a good deal more in his head than many 
who think themselves somebodies ; one who, although, more's 
the pity, he does not now profess religion, has led a life against 
which no one can say a word. I have no wish to hurt any- 
body s feelings, but my son never, in his life, touched a drop of 
intoxicating drink, nor was he ever in the Eed Dragon playing 
boogoodell, or whatever you call it. And although he was but 
a common collier, I think as much of him as other people do of 
their children who have been brought up in bordin' schools, 
and taught to fiivol, and to feed their pride and fulfil the 
desires of the flesh; that I do. No one need have spoken to me 
of help from the parish, if you, Mr. Brown, and the owner of 
the Hall had not wrongfully imprisoned my son. I hope, still, 
to be kept from going on the parish, although there are many 
to whom it is useful. But as to going to Church, I never will. 
As you know, I've been there several times at thanksgiving 
services; but, I am bound to tell you, I never found anything 
for my soul there. Methodis' have I always been, and, by the 
help of God, Methodis' I shall always remain. I'll try and 
rough it, somehow, till my son comes back, without help of 
either parish or parson." 

Mother delivered this address fluently, and with a withering 
scorn upon her face which I never knew it wear, before or 
since. Constant fear that the chair would give wuy under Mr. 
Brown, and deep shame for my mother's audacity, threw me 
into a great sweat. I was glad from the bottom of my heart to 
hear her put an end to her lecture. Mr. Brown seemed 
thunderstruck and wounded ; and not without cause. But he 
was not the man to defend an act, though it were his own, if he 
thought it to be unjust. Mother knew him well enough to 
make bold with him in this. She knew, also, that if the belief 
were common in the town that Bob and his companion had 
been wrongfully imprisoned, no one could be more fully 
aware of the fact than Mr. Brown, who was never, at any 
time, a stranger to public opinion. Mr. Brown did not attempt 
to defend himself. When he got up to go I felt mightily 



RHYS LEWIS, 157 

relieved, because I was convinced, now, that the chair would 
not break. Before leaving, he said, morosely almost, — 

*' No one ever spoke like that to me before, Mrs. Lewis ; and 
p'raps you'll want assistance from me yet." 

" I don't deny the first, Mr. Brown," returned mother, 
** because I hope you never before put an innocent lad in gaol. 
It is no harm in the world for you to hear a bit of the truth 
sometimes, and I feel very much what-d'you-call-it after 
telling you what I have. But as to the other thing, namely, 
that I'll come to ask you, next time, I have nothing to do but 
trust in Providence ; only, if I ever throw myself upon your 
good mercy, you may be sure that I shall have first tried 
everybody else in vain." 

Mr. Brown left, fuming. 

"I said nothing out of the way to him, did I?" mother 
asked, when he had gone. 

I replied that I feared she went a little too far, and had 
hurt his feelings. 

*' Don't talk rubbish," she rejoined. " His skin is much 
thicker than you imagine. The Saviour and his Apostles 
spoke plainer truth, a good deal, to the High Priest than I did 
to Mr. Brown. I knew very well where I stood, and I'll defy 
him to send me a summons, big a man as he is." 

That night, Abraham Jones, the overseer at the Red Fields 
Pit, came to our house to notify mother that good and constant 
work was being kept for Bob by the time he came home, and that 
whatever money she might stand in need of, meanwhile, was to 
be had, Bob to make re-payment from his wages as best he could. 
Mother having cried a little, and expressed her thanks, over and 
over again, gave Abraham — a zealous Congregationalist — par* 
ticulars of the parson's visit, which diverted him greatly. On 
leaving, he handed mother a sovereign by way of loan. She 
looked at the coin on every side and from every angle, as one 
looks at an old friend whose face he has almost forgotten. 

'•'A good man showeth favour and lendeth,' " she said; " 'he 
will guide his affairs with discretion.' Do you know what? I had 
nearly forgotten the sort of person our Queen was. I remember 
a time when I was right well acquainted with her. I hope we'll 
see each other oftener in the future. Long life and grace, both 
to her and her children, is the sincere wish of my heart." 



158 RHYS LEWIS. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

CONVERTS. 

Time passed, as it always does, bringing with it, as it always 
briogs, not only its troubles, but its consolations. Through the 
kindness of overseer Abraham, our cupboard was no lougor 
empty, the lions no longer raged within my stomach. The 
nearer the prospect of Bob's release, the brighter did my 
mother's face become. And yet I knew from her talk and 
demeanour that she was not without her fears for his appearance, 
for the eflPect of an unjust imprisonment upon his spirit, and a 
thousand and one other things which a careful mother troubles 
herself about under circumstances of this kind. John Powell 
had already come home, and although he could not give much 
account of Bob, the two having been confined apart, mother, 
by "pumping and stilling," had been able to extract enough 
from him to make her look forward with fear and anxiety ta 
the day of my brother's return. Before that day came round, 
two things happened which cheered her greatly. Not to en- 
large (as I sometimes say in my sermon, although I deliver 
myself of every word I originally intended), I will merely touch 
upon the occurrences. 

The visits which our revered old deacon, Abel Hughes, paid 
to our house were of such common occurrence that I took but 
little notice of them, save on some special occasion like the one 
I have already chronicled. But I have good reason to re- 
member one visit, about a fortnight before Bob came out of 
gaol. Mother and he had been conversing for some time ; I, 
wholly heedless, being occupied in writing at the table near the 
window, for yoa must know I had not forgotten Bob's advice 
to apply myself to the work of self- improvement, so that I 
might not become a collier like him. My attention was 
suddenly arrested by Abel's saying to mother : — 

" It is high time, Mary, for that boy to thiuk of doing some- 
thing, especially as matters are as they are with you now." 

"I am of the same mind as you exactly, Abel," replied 
mother. " But \phat he is able to do, I don't know. He isn't 
stronsr, nor much of a scholar." 



RHYS LEWIS. 159 



•* But he is a big lump of a boy to be doing nothing, Mary." 

'•Exactly," said mother. 

«' I could do with a lad in the shop there, now, if I were sure 
Ehys would answer the purpose." 

" The yery thing I had been thinking of, dozens of times, 
Abel," said mother; "only I feared Ehys wasn't scholar 
enough. I knew he'd get fair play for his soul with you, and 
I fancy you'd have no trouble with him. He's a fairly good 
lad, considering. It's a very odd thing, Abel, but the older I 
get the more I see, with Bob, poor fellow, that a little learning 
comes in wonderful handy ; only not too much of it — I'll stick 
to that." 

"What' re you doing there, Ehys?" queried Abel, coming 
towards me, and adding, " Do you know what? you write a 
very decent hand. Tell me, who taught you ? " 

" Bob," I answered timidly. 

** Can you cipher ? Can you do simple addition ? " 

1 fear I smiled, almost sarcastically, in replying: 

** I can do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division 
of money." 

'• What's he saying, Abel ? " asked my mother. 

"Oh! only that he knows how to reckon monev," replied 
Abel. 

"Ehys!" said mother, with a reproving look; "I never 
caught you in an untruth before. Do you want to break your 
mother's heart, or what ? Haven't I had enough trouble 
already, without your going to tell a lie before my veiy face ? 
The old saying is a true one, Abel : no one knows what it is to 
rear children. I tell you, honestly, I don't want to deceive 
you ; but he has never had any money to handle. I'm 
surprised at you, Ehys, for saying such a thing to Abel 
Hughes." 

Many of the old Methodists believed, I rather fancy, that 
laughter was not " becoming to the Gospel." I never re- 
member previously hearing Abel Hughes give vent to his 
feelings in this particular fashion; and so unused was he to the 
business that his laugh was more of a cross between a screech 
and a groan than anything else. Laugh, however, he did. 



i6o RHYS LEWIS, 



" Don't disturb yourself, Mary /ac/i," he said. *' Rhys and 
I are only talking of the Tutor's rules for calculating money." 

'* Ho, say so ! I never knew Mr. Tudor had any such rules, 
although I've heard he's got plenty of money, and that he takes 
good care of it, too. If he were to come here to reckon my 
money, he could leave his 'rules' at home, goodness knows. 
The children of these days know more than their parents, or 
they think so, at any rate. But as you und'stand each other, 
go on." 

On we went, Abel questioning and I replying. Without 
flattering myself, I am certain Abel was astonished to find I 
knew as much as I did — I who had had such little schooling — 
and he admired Bob for the trouble he had taken with me. 

" I hope Bob has taught him nothing wrong, Abel," re- 
marked my mother. "They take so much to English, these 
days, that you can't tell what's taking place in your own house." 

Abel assured her that Bob had been doing only good in 
teaching me these things ; which, coming from him, was a 
sweet morsel unto her. 

" I often quarrelled with Bob," said mother, '* because there 
was too much book and slate going on, and too little of the 
Bible. I am glad, however, to hear you say that he taught the 
boy no harm ; although I'll stick to it, there is in the youth of 
these days too great a tendency to neglect the Bible." 

Not to amplify, as I have already said, the result of Abel's 
visit that night was an agreement between mother and him 
that I was to go on a month's trial to his shop, eating at his 
table, but coming home to sleep. This is one of the two things 
I referred to as bringing comfort to mother, as much comfort, 
I am certain, as many a mother has had on the appointment of 
her son to a post under government ; a great element in such 
comfort being the reflection that my ' ' soul would get fair play," 
as she expressed it. 

The other thing which cheered her greatly was the fact that 
Thomas and Barbara Bartley continued to attend service, and 
that there was every reason to believe the Truth was, to some 
extent, working upon their minds. I have said that mother and 
I used often to visit Thomas and Barbara, and have intimated 
that there was a kind of understanding between us, during our 



RHYS LEWIS. i6i 



time of want, that we should not be permitted to leave our 
neighbours' house fasting. I should, however, be doing 
mother a great wrong if I let it be understood that this was her 
only or her chief object. No, I think she felt as much interest 
in their salvation as Paul did in that of his ** kinsmen according 
to the flesh." She watched carefully the manner in which the 
couple listened to the Sunday's sermons, and on Monday 
morning would visit them to know how much of the truth they 
had comprehended and what effect had been left upon their 
minds. I am under strong temptation to relate a few of the 
conversations which occurred on these visits ; but lest some 
people should think I am over-drawing my mother's zeal and 
devotion, I refrain. In the course of examining them, and 
of explaining things, in the siuiple language of the truth, I 
heard Thomas Bartley several times say : — 

*' It's a shocking pity you don't happen to belong to the 
Eanters, Mary. You'd make an uncommon good preacher." 

Our chapel friends understood, well enough, it was my 
mother who had been instrumental in bringing Thomas and 
Barbara to the means of grace. Great was their wonder and 
joy to see two old folk, who, although living quite close to the 
chapel, had spent their lives wholly heedless of religion, but 
who, at last, gave their presence at every public meeting. "If 
your brother's imprisonment," mother would say, "has been 
the means of bringing Thomas and Barbara Bartley within 
sound of the Gospel, and especially if it will be the means of 
bringing them to Christ, I shall never repent of the bargain. I 
much think, look you, that the truth has laid some hold of my 
old neighbours' minds, and I shouldn't be a bit surprised to see 
Thomas and Barbara come to Communion before Bob returns 
home. I fancy I am about as good a Calvinist as anybody I have 
met, but the devil must have farmed it badly with Thomas and 
Barbara. There is in both good soil for Gospel seed ; it has 
none of the thorns and briars of envy and deceit, nor the reeds 
and fens of fleshy lusts. In a manner of speaking, the spirit 
will have less work there in making a new heart. Bob used to 
talk a deal, as you know, of Thomas and Barbara's ignorance 
and harmlessness, of which he made a lot of fun. Nothing 
would please me better, when he comes home, than to be able 

L 



i62 RHYS LEWIS, 



to tell him that both were saved. You may think Tm talking 
nonsense perhaps, Bob himself not bting in the Society; but 
I can't help thinking - can't for the very life of me help thinking 
— that Bob is one of us. And something keeps telling me that 
he'll return to the Society directly. What is your opinion ? " 

I received, in connection with Thomas and Barbara Bartley's 
history, a lesson which I have never forgotten, namely, that 
those preachers whom some people term small are a much 
better blessing to a particular section of their hearers than 
those who are considered great. I remember that Thomas a.nd 
Barbara received but little good from the ministration of the 
preachers whom my brother Bob styled favourites ; while both 
would praise highly those whom he held almost in contempt. 
This pleased mother greatly, because she took it to verify her 
oft-repeated remark to my brother that everybody was not a 
Paul or a Peter, and that, although the fact had not been noted, 
many had been saved under Thaddeus, or the Master would 
not have called him to the work. 

A few days afterwards, as we were at breakfast, mother 
observed: "This is the last Sabbath for Bob, poor fellow, to be 
in the house of bondage ; thanks for it. And yet I'm almost 
afraid to see him come home, lest his spirit hath hardened 
under trial. I wonder who is to preach next Sunday ? Were 
Bob home to-day I know he wouldn't care much for the 
minister. He was always disposed to under-rate William 
Hughes, of Abercwmnant. But I think William is one of the 
chosen, and I get a blessing from hearing him. Although we 
shall, no doubt, have to-day, as usual, as Bob used to put it, 
'the object noted,' * the act attributed,' and * the duty en- 
joined,' it does'nt a bit matter ; for William Hughes is sure to 
say something worth the hearing and the doing. Let us hope 
his Master will be with him, and that he will effect a conversion." 

William Hughes kept his appointment. It is rarely a little 
preacher does not, except he be little enough to imitate the 
failino-s of a great one. I remember well the text that morning 
— 'Turn ye to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope.' I 
fancied everybody was thinking of my brother Bob when 
William Hughes was speaking of the prisoners. The old 
preacher appeared unsually spirited, and was listened to with 



RBYS LEWIS. 165 



the most marked attention. I have my notes of his sermon 
before me as I write. On looking them over, I find they 
contain the soundest doctrine ; but, marrellous to relate, the 
ordinary divisions are not preserved. Possibly I was careless 
in taking down. They run thus: —I. The objects noted— prisoners. 

II. The provision made by grace on their behalf— a stronghold, 

III. The duty enjoined — turning to the stronghold. 

I recollect mother helped the service to such an extent 
that I momentarily expected to hear her jubilating; as she 
did once under Cadwaladr Owen's ministration, at which Bob 
was so offended that he would not speak to her for two whole 
days together. I recollect, further, that Abel Hughes, towards 
the middle of the sermon, rose from his usual place under the 
pulpit, and posted himself in front of the Big Seat— a sure sign, 
always, that the preacher was saying something exceptionally 
good. Why I took such particular notice of our deacon's 
conduct was, possibly, because I had heard my mother say to 
him, more than once, after arousing sermon: "Well, Abel, 
you too were obliged to come out of your kennel to-day." To 
me, a sufficient proof that William Hughes excelled himself on 
that morning is aflForded by the imperfection of my notes ; my 
experience being that when a preacher speaks sluggishly I 
can take down nearly the whole sermon, but, if he has a swing 
and go about him, I forget my book and pencil and lose myself 
in what he says. 

On coming out of chapel I found Thomas and Barbara 
Bartley waiting for mother. All three, engaged in earnest 
conversation, walked homewards together, Will Bryan and I 
keeping a little to the rear. Although it was Sabbath morn, 
I could not help telling Will that I was going apprentice to old 
Abel. Struck with surprise, and with a look of commiseration 
for my fate, he said, 

"Good-bye, my hearty. This child (striking his chest), 
would sooner go apprentice to a roUer-up or barber. You'll 
never more have any liking for play or laughter. From this 
time out you'll get nothing in the world but Society and a 
verse; and before this day month, I'll take my oath, you'll 
have been obliged to learn to groan like an Irishman with the 
toothache, and to pull a face as long as a fiddle. You'll be fit 



i64 J^nVS LEWIS. 



for heaven any day then. Rather than go 'prentice to the old 
onion, this child (striking his breast again), would go footman 
to the King of the Cannibal Islands. I'm sorry for you Rhys ; 
but since the thing is settled — fire away. This chap (striking 
his breast once more), would sooner go oyster-fishing to the top 
of Moel Fammau than go 'prentice to old Ab." 

I knew Will was honestly speaking his mind, but having 
told him I did not look upon my future in the same serious 
light that he did, I was surprised at his reply. 

"Listen here, old hundredth. I think it about time we made 
a preacher or a deacon of you, I'll swear." 

Will little guessed I could desire nothing better than to be 
made the former, were it in his power. To avoid his gibes I 
kept the reflection to myself. 

On reaching home I found my mother humming a tune, and 
although she was almost speechless, I never knew her to give 
so many signs of inward happiness. I imagined it was the 
*' stronghold," of which the preacher spoke, which made her 
heart rejoice, but I don't remember that she said a word about 
the sermon, beyond this alone— that William Hughes "had felt 
his feet under him," which was her way of indicating that a 
preacher had found inspiration. At six o'clock that evening, 
William Hughes had another successful meeting, of which my 
memoranda are as follow : — 

Text: — ** Con)e unto nie, all ye that labour and are heavy- 
laden, and I will give you rest." 

Heads : — 1. The objects noted — Those who labour and are 
heavy laden. 

2. The duty enjoined — ** Come unto me." 

3. The precious promise unto those who obey—"] will 
gire you rest." 

I do not remember anything in particular about the sermon. 
In the Society, after service, Abel Hughes put the customary 
question — " Is there anyone who has remained afresh r " 
I wondered what made him ask, seeing he himself was looking 
straight at two who had " remained afresh." John Lloyd (he 
whom Will Bryan had named "the Old Scraper,") in reply 



RHYS LEWIS. 165 



said that which everybody knew already, namely, that Thomas 
and Barbara Bartley had remained. 

" Ho ! will you have a word with them, William Hughes ? '* 
said Abel, addressing the preacher, adding, "you must not 
expect much from them ; they have not been hearers for long." 
He thereupon sat down beside the preacher, in whose ear, so I 
have imagined, he whispered all he could, in half a minute, 
tell about the converts. After some slight demur, the preacher 
got to his feet and, with hands crossed upon his back, under 
his coat-tails, walked, as if reluctantly, towards Thomas and 
Barbara. As far as I can remember, the conversation which 
ensued was somewhat after this fashion : — 

"Well, Thomas Bartley," the preacher began, "I know 
nothing about you, so perhaps you wouldn't mind telling us, 
freely, a little of your history." 

'• I will, name of goodness," replied Thomas. " Father and 
mother were poor people, and I was the youngest of three 
children. There's none left 'cept me; and I don't know of 
anybody belonging to us but one cousin down in England, if 
he's alive. It's a dying-out sort of " 

" I didn't mean you to give the history of your family," the 
preacher interposed. " What I wanted to know was a little of 
your own experience. What made you and your wife remain 
behind to-night ? " 

"0! beg pardon," said Thomas. "Well, I'll tell you. 
Barbara and I, for weeks past, have been thinkin' a lot about 
comin' to the Society to you. Mary Lewis told us it was high 
time, and that we could never do anythiu' better. So, hearin' 
you a-beggin' of us so earnestly this mornin' to turn to the 
stronghold, we both made up our minds to stay to-night; 
because we knew very well it was to us you was referrin'." 

Barbara nodded her concurrence. 

" You did well," remarked the preacher ; " and I don't doubt 
but that the friends here are very glad to see you. Yery likely 
you look upon yourself as a great sinner, Thomas Bartley ? " 

"Well, I'll say this much," replied Thomas, "I never nursed 
a spite towards anybody, as Barbara knows ; and I always try 
to live honest." 



1 66 RHYS LEWIS. 



"I am glad to Loar it; it isn't everybody can say that much," 
Mr. Hughes observed, adding, "but we are all sinners, you 
know, Tnomas Bartley." 

*' Yes, yes," said Thomas. ** Bad is the best of us ; but I'm 
thinkin' some are worse'n others." 

'* Can you read, Thomas Bartley ? " asked the minister. 

** I've a grip of the letters, nothin' more ; but I'm awful fond 
•of hearin' others read," replied Thomas. 

"It's a great loss not to be able to read; and it has got 
somewhat late in the day for you to think of learning," Mr. 
Hughes observed. 

♦' I know I'll never learn, 'cause there's nothing quick about 
me, most the pity," said Thomas. 

"Not having heard very much of the Gospel, Thomas 
Bartley, and not being able to read, you should be doubly 
diligent, in attendance on the means of grace from this time 
out," said Mr. Hughes. 

"If we live," returned Thomas, "Barbara ai.d I nare made up 
our minds to come reg'lar to the service, 'cause the time passes 
better by half here'n if we stayed mopin' at home. To tell you 
the truth, Mr. Hughes, we find great pleasure in chapel, and 
if we'd a-known it sooner, we'd have been here these years; but 
no one ever asked us till Mary Lewis a'most forced us to come." 

"What gives you such pleasure in chapel, Thomas Bartley ? " 
asked the preacher. 

"Indeed, I can't tell you guzzactly, but Barbara and I 
feel much more what-d'you-call-it, since we've been comin' 
to chapel." 

" Very good," remarked the preacher. "But what do you 
think of ' the stronghold ' I tried to say something about this 
morning ? " 

"Well," replied Thomas, " I thought you spoke up nicely 
about it, only I couldn't catch guzzactly all you said. But 
Mary Lewis explained to us on the way home that Jesus Christ 
dyia' for us was the stronghold, and that trustin' Him for 
salvation was turnin' to the stronghold. I thought so too, 
only I couldn't speak my mind." 

"Whoever this Mary Lewis is," observed the preacher, 
** she is pretty near the mark on that head." 



RHYS LEWIS. 167 



"Yes, I warrant her. Mary is a real good 'un, sure to you, 
Mr. Hughes," rejoined Thomas. 

It had been obvious for some time, so I heard mother say, 
that Mr. "William Hughes did not understand his customer. 
After a moment's hesitation, he made one more attempt to 
bring Thomas to a point. 

"Thomas Bartley," said he, "will you tell me what call was 
there that Jesus Christ should die for us ? " 

"Well, so far's I can make out," replied Thomas, "it was 
nothin' in the blessed world, only he himself liked it." 

"But wasn't there anything in us which necessitated his 
dying, Thomas Bartley ? "' asked the preacher. 

"Nothing at all, to my mind," replied Thomas. "P'raps 
I'm wrong, though ; only I fancy no one told him to do it, and 
that he took everybody by surprise, as they say." 

Mr. Hughes looked, once more, as if he had been pitched 
from his saddle. Turning to Barbara he said : — 

" Well, Barbara Bartley, can you read ? " 

" A grip of the letters, same as Thomas," was her reply. 

' ' Will you tell us a word as to your feeling ? " said Mr. Hughes. 

" Same as Thomas, guzzactly," returned Barbara. 

William Hughes retraced his steps to the Big Seat, saying : 
"Abel Hughes, you know our friends here better than I do." 

Abel got upon his feet. Although but a lad, I knew that il 
anyone could find out whether a spark of the divine fire had 
descended upon the souls of Thomas and Barbara, it was Abel. 
I never saw his like, I'm thinking, at probing the soul of a 
man, whatever reputation he bore. 

" My dear old neighbours," said our senior deacon, in a voice 
trembling with emotion, "I need not tell you that my heart 
rejoices to see you making efi'ort to turn to that stronghold 
we heard so sweetly spoken of this morning. I hope, and for 
that matter believe, that your intention was perfectly good in 
staying with us to-night. I, my friends, feel," he went on, 
turning towards the congregation, " that I have been severely 
reproved here to-night, and I trust we all felt the same, when 
Thomas Baitley told us that no one except Mary Lewis ever 
asked him and his wife to come to the means of grace. Let us 
be ashamed and repent. Well, Thomas Bartley, I'll try and 



i68 RBYS LEWIS. 



talk so that you can understand me. Do you find any change 
in your disposition and mind, these days, diflferent to what you 
used to, we'll say three months ago ? " 

'* A great change, 'deed to you, Abel Hughes," replied 
Thomas Bartley. 

•* Well, tell us, in your own way, what it is," said Abel. 

" You never met my worse at speakin', Abel Hughes; but 
before I began comin* to chapel, Barbara nor me never thought 
anythin' on the blessed earth about our end. But now there isn't 
a day goes over our heads that we don't talk about it. I think 
a good deal of what'll happen to us when we go from here— 
will Barbara and I be together, and shall we be comfortable ? " 

''That's right, Thomas," said Abel. ** What do you think 
you must get here, so that you may be made comfortable after 
going from here ? " 

*' Well," replied Thomas, ** I can't tell you, guzzactly. But 
I'm thinking it's trust in Christ, as Mary Lewis says." 

"Don't change your mind as +n that, Thomas bach,^' said 
Abel. ** You and I, and all of Uo, v^iil be quite safe if we only 
trust in Him. You had a son, Thomas, who has gone to Him, 
without doubt. Seth, innocent as he was, got to know the 
Man ; and I cannot wish you both, or myself, better than to be 
able to tell, as clearly as Seth did, where he was going to." 

At mention of Seth great tears fell down Thomas's cheek, so 
choking his utterance that it was quite impossible to get 
another word from him. Barbara's check apron became wet 
with the same kind of moisture. Abel Hughes was a stern 
man, but he had a large heart ; and when he wept, his tears, 
like summer rain, took eflfect on everything round about, save 
the rocks. So happened it this time, for he was completely 
overcome. Presently regaining his composure, he asked the 
church to signify its assent to the reception of Thomas and 
Barbara Bai tley into membership. Before any hand could be 
raised, John Lloyd asked whether Thomas Bartley was an 
abstainer ? 

" Hark at the old Scraper," said Will Bryan in my ear. 

Abel, without taking it upon him that he had heard John 
Lloyd's question, declared the Bartleys to have been duly 
admitted. 



RHYS LEWIS. i6q 



I sat near tne Big Seat. After the preacher had brought 
the Society to a close, I saw Thomas Bartley go up to the 
chief deacon. Thrusting his hand into his pocket, he asked : — 

" Abel Hughes, is there any entrance to pay to-night? " 

*'No, Thomas," replied Abel with a smile. "You'll have 
an opportunity of putting something on the church book by 
and bye." 

*'To be shwar," said Thomas, and away he went. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

A VISIT FROM MORE THA^' ONE RELATION. 

Had I known, before beginning to write this autobiography, it 
would swell to such a size, I am doubtful whether I would have 
undertaken the task at all. Behold me, at the end of twenty 
one chapters— some of them long and lean— only, as it were, 
just sharpening my pencil for a start. I have said so many 
things, of all sorts, that I do not remember whether I have 
previously described what I feel when writing every chapter, 
almost ; namely that there is here too great an abundance of 
the "I," "my mother," and "my brother," of "said she," 
" said I," and " said he," which, if the work were published, 
would doubtless pall upon the reader. But what help have I ? 
Having begun the work, I am not very willing to leave it un- 
finished, especially since I have not touched upon some of the 
principal events of my life. 

Without flattery or false-modesty, the truth is, my brother 
Bob was a hero in the eyes of the Red Fields' workmen. 
Although in language, manners and habits he differed from 
most of them, yet I am perfectly certain that did they go to 
choose a king from their midst. Bob would have been elected 
monarch. It is a fact worthy of note that superior intelligence, 
and purity of speech and conduct will, sooner or later, win the 
admiration of even the most reckless and ungodly. Bob, since 
he was thirteen years of age, had been at work in the Red Fields 
colliery, and never an ear heard oath descend his lips. His 



lyo RHYS LEWIS. 



fellow-workmen speedily got to know he was a reader, and, 
when meal time came round, he would be applied to for the 
news. He had an excellent memory and a fluent tongue, and 
while yet a mere lad he made glad the heart of many older 
than he, by the light of the Davy lamp deep down in the 
bowels of the earth. When he grew up to manhood he found 
himself one of the leaders of his fellow- workmen; and although, 
any more than someone else, he could not control a fierce 
crowd of colliers, still he was generally looked upon as their 
adviser. During the period of Abraham Jones's stewardship, 
it was to Bob he gave charge of the work in his absence. 
No wonder, therefore, that when Abraham regained office, my 
brother's former companions should look forward with interest 
to the time of his release from prison. Although it was only a 
few days since I had begun to " work" with Abel Hughes in 
his shop, the old man kindly gave me a holiday in order that I 
might greet my brother on his return home. He was expected 
by the mid-day train ; and, from early morning, mother, 
nervous and agitated, busied herself cleaning the house and 
preparing a hearty reception for him. 

" I have been a good while trying to make out," she said, 
" what we shall get the boy to eat when he comes. They tell 
me that too heavy a meal for one who has just left jail will 
make him ill. Now I think of it, Bob used to be wonderful 
fond of currant cake ; and, so that he might have some delicacy 
which won't weigh too heavy on his stomach, perhaps a cup of 
tea and some cake would be just the thing. If you'll run to 
the shop for three penn'orth of the best flour, a ha'porth of 
carbonate of soda, and a quarter of a pound of currants, I'll be 
no time making it." 

I was most ready to do my share of the work, my disposition, 
like Bob's, being somewhat favourable to the griddle. The tea 
things were on the table, the cake had been baked, the kettle 
had boiled and got cold again, many times over, long before the 
train was due. And I was at the railway station at least half 
an hour too early, Will Bryan, fair play for him, being there 
even before me. Very speedily, scores of stalwart colliers lined 
the platform, all with spirits and voices high. Some chucked 
me familiarly under the chin, others pulled my hair and ears — 



RHYS LEWIS. 171 



'with the best intentions of course— while others gave me 
pennies. I preferred the last. Will Bryan looked almost 
enviously upon my store, but did not ask me for any of 
it, as he did on the previous occasion, \rhen I thought he 
meant to fee a lawyer to defend Bob. This time he seemed 
puzzling himself to know what he should tell me to do with the 
money. 

" It's a great pity Bob doesn't smoke," he observed. ** That 
brass of yours would have done nicely to buy him a tobacco- 
box." 

With his failure to suggest anything else, I had half a mind 
to condole. One remark he made I remember well. 

"A collier who is taken to jail," he said, "has this advantage, 
that they can't give him the county crop. I'll defy 'em to cut 
his hair any shorter than it is already." 

A great many other observations did Will let drop, which I 
considered at the time to be the esseuce of wisdom. The crowd 
of colliers who had come to meet Bob grew very large. I was 
surprised at the absence from their midst of Bob's greatest 
friend, John Powell. While I was thinking what a disappoint- 
ment it would be to Bob not to find his old companion there to 
welcome him, I heard the train approach. My heart began 
beating rapidly ; Will Bryan made his mouth into a circle and 
went imitating the engine. The bell rang, and the train came 
in sight at a speed which I thought would make it impossible 
to pull up. Pull up, however, it did. With the noise of the 
steam which the engine let off, the throwing of coal on the fire, 
the banging of boxes upon the platform, the opening and 
slamming of doors, the rushing hither and thither of passengers 
and other people, and the talk and chatter they made, the place 
became one wild scene of noise and confusion. I looked in 
every direction for Bob. 

"All right," shouted someone, and away went the train 
once more. 

The colliers stared at each other with disappointment in their 
looks. Will Bryan, running up to me, said, " A mare's nest. 
Bob has not come." 

My spirit sank within me, and hardly could I control my 
i'eelings. The colliers tried to console me with the assurance 



172 RHYS LEWIS. 



that Bob would arrire by next train, due three hours later» 
I went home crestfallen. Long before reaching the house, I 
saw mother in the doorway expecting vs. On seeing me alone, 
she fled inside. Her disappointment was sore. I told her the 
colliers were certain he would come by next train. The cake 
was left unbroken and the kettle, which had boiled dry, was^ 
refilled. I went to meet the train a second time, and found a 
greater crowd of workmen than before. I had a presentiment 
Bob would not come by that train either. It turned out to be 
true. By this time my own disappointment had lost its smart at 
thought of the blow it would be to mother, whose heart-stringa 
had been strained to such a pitch of tension that I fancied they 
must break at this fresh news. Nearing the house, I saw that 
she we 3 not, as on the previous occasion, standing in the door- 
way. On entering, I found she was not so much cast down a» 
I had anticipated. 

" I knew he would not come; something told me so," she 
said, before I had time to speak a word. " The furnace is not 
seven times heated, even yet, it would seem. I know some- 
thing has happened to him;" and burying her face in her 
apron, she burst into tears. 

I followed her example, and both of us presently felt better. 
I do not remember that we ate a single morsel. Mother did 
not care whether I went to meet the last train or not ; but go 
I did. On the platform this time were a number of the Eed 
Fields workmen who had been engaged in the pit during the 
day. They appeared fresh washed, their faces being clean, 
with the exception of a little shading about the corners and lids 
of the eyes. I noticed, also, that great numbers of those who 
had not been to work that day were half drunk. The train 
came, but without bringing Bob; whereupon the last-named 
section began cursing it, and almost everything else, but espe- 
cially the two justices, Mr. Brown and the owner of the Hall. 
Will Bryan tried to persuade me to wait a while before return- 
ing home, there being signs, he said, of a row worth the seeing 
among the colliers. Finding his words were of no avail, at a 
great personal sacrifice, he returned with me. Will was always in 
his element in a row. Wherever there was a disturbance, there 
also, if it were possible, was Will. At Soldier Robin's school it 



RBYS LEWIS. 173 



was his whole delight to set the boys a-fighting. In con- 
nection with the chapel, again, he a thousand times preferred 
accounts of a wrangling teachers' meeting to listening to a 
good sermon. Ever since he began to part his hair and 
"make a Q.P," mother was very much prejudiced against him, 
and was always putting me on my guard lest he should corrupt 
me. Will understood this rery well, and, whenever he visited 
our house, he always took care to pull his hair down over his 
forehead before coming in. This had an excellent effect ou 
mother, and I think would have uprooted her prejudices had 
she not accidentally, in looking through the window one day, 
caught TV ill going through this preliminary. She reproved him 
severely for his hypocrisy. 

But, after all, as I have previously intimated, Will under- 
stood my mother perfectly, and' managed her with remarkable 
skill. When it served his purpose he could, in his own way, 
talk as religiously as herself, almost. I do not think she was 
displeased to see Will coming home with me that night. She 
had had a neighbour or two in to cheer her, and so, doubtless, 
believed that Will was some sort of a support to me. When we 
entered, we were both struck with her calmness. 

"The old woman keeps up like a brick," said Will in my ear, 

"I see," observed my mother, "it is bad news you have 
again. But it's only what I expected. Something has 
liappened to him or he would have been home before now." 

"Don't be down-hearted, Mary Lewis," said Will. "I 
believe Bob will turn up from somewhere, just directly." 

"You've no foundation for that belief, William," returned my 
mother. " To-night, look you, I'm made to feel the words of 
the wise man coming home to me : ' Hope deferred maketh the 
heart sick.' And then Job, when he was in trouble, said, 
' Thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of 
the earth, and thou destroyest the hope of man.' ' Where is 
now my hope ? ' * As for my hope, who shall see it ? ' " 

"Well, but didn't the preacher say the other Sunday, Mary 
Lewis," asked Will, " that it came right with Job in the end, 
after all the humbugging he got, didn't he ? " 



174 RHYS LEWIS. 

" He did, William," replied mother ; ** and were I as trust- 
ful in my Redeemer as Job was, it would come all right with 
me too, look you." 

*' It's sure to come all right with you, Mary Lewis. You're 
as pious as Job was, I'll take my oath of it," observed Will. 

" Don't presume and blaspheme, William," commanded my 
mother. 

''I'm telling the truth, from my heart," returned Will. 
"You're as pious as Job was, any day he got out of bed. And, 
according to the way the preacher gave his history, I see you 
both very much like each other. Job had a bad wife and 
you've had a bad husband, and you've both stuck to your 
colours, first class ; so I'm sure the Lord'll not be shabby in 
your case, in the end, either; you shall see if He will." 

*'I beg of you not to say any more, Will," said mother. 
"You ought to know I'm in no humour, to-night, to listen to 
any nonsense from you." 

"Nonsense!" cried Will, honestly indignant, I am sure. 
"It is no nonsense at all. I'll bet you— that is, I'll take my 
oath— it'll be all right with you in the end. Didn't the 
preacher tell us about Job that the Lord was only trying him ? 
So is He doing with you. He only just wants to show the kind 
of stuff there's in you." 

"William," said mother, for the sake of turning the con- 
versation, "were there many colliers at the railway.'" 
(" Eailway " was mother's name for the station.) 

"Thousands upon thousands," replied Will. 

"There you are again," observed mother. "There's only 
three hundred altogether in the Red Fields pit." 

" Well, yes, in a manner of speaking, you know, Mary 
Lewis," rejoined Will. "I'm sure there was near a hundred 
there." 

" Didn't one of you happen to speak to John Powell? What 
did he think about Bob's not coming ? " mother asked. 

" John Powell wasn't there," we both replied. 

" Not there ! John Powell not there ! " exclaimed mother, 
in surprise. 

" He was working the day shift," obesrved Will. 

" Who told you that, William ? " asked mother. 



J^HYS LEWIS. 175 



*• No one ; I only thought it," was Will's answer. 

Mother fell to pleating her apron and musing. Presently 
she said, — 

''William, you wouldn't be long running as far as John 
Powell's house and telling him, if he is in, I'd like to see him." 

**No sooner said than done," said Will, jumping to his feet. 

** It is very dark, William," observed my mother, following 
him to the door; "and it is almost too much to ask you to 
return. Ehys'U come with you to learn something from John 
Powell, so as to let you go home." 

" Stand at ease, as you were ! " cried Will in English. '* If 
the darkness is very thick, I'll cut through it with my knife.'* 
And off he went. 

"There is something very lovable and decent about that 
boy, ' mother remarked. "I can't, for the life of me, help 
liking him ; only I'd like him better if he was a little more 
serious and spoke less English. I often fear he'll make you 
like himself; and yet I do not think there is guile in his heart. 
Why didn't you tell me John Powell wasn't at the railway ? " 

Although the time seemed long. Will speedily returned with 
the news that John Powell was not at home, neither had he 
been home during the day; on hearing which, mother fell 
once more into a deep study, so deep that she took no notice of 
what Will told me, almost in a whisper : — 

" I called to tell the gaffer yonder I was going to stay with 
you to-night. We have lost some splendid sport. The colliers 
have been burning straw effigies of Mr. Brown and the owner 
of the Hall, and capital ones they were, too. There's been three 
battles, and One-eyed Ned has been taken to the round house, 
although he fought like a lion with the p'liceman." 

Will rattled along with his story, but I was not in the humour 
to listen, and I have no inclination to repeat it here. Seeing me 
not interested he ceased, and, next minute was fast asleep, his 
heavy breathing filling the house and rousing mother from her 
reverie. 

"William," she said, "it's time you should go home, my son." 

" Not going home to-night ; told the gaffer so," replied Will, 
who fell asleep again directly. Mother recommecced her 
apron-pleatiug, and looked thoughtfully into the fire. 



176 RHYS LEWIS. 



I loved the silence. I don't know whether there is another 
like me, but I am thinking that my habit of spending hours at a 
stretch in the quiet of the night staring into the fire, with 
thousands of things which never had an existence and will 
never come to pass, running through my mind, is a legacy left 
me by my mother. Spite of every attempt to shake it off, it 
has clung to me to this day. Some nights I live an age in a 
few hours. Among other things, I have seen myself married 
to someone whose name I do not know. Our children fill the 
house with their clatter, they grow up and are sent to school, I 
try and train them as best I can, they give me all sorts of 
trouble, they leave home ; at last their mother dies and I, a 
white-headed old man, am deserted of all save my crutches. I 
am cold and, the clock striking one, I spring to my fe^t with 
the remark that these are but vain imaginations, and I myself 
but a shivering old bachelor. I then run off to bed; but before 
closing my eyelids, I make a resolve that never again will I 
give my fancy rein, it being unprofitable, if not actually sinfnl, 
so to do. Next night I read till I am tired, and then say to 
myself, '* Bhys, you had better, before going to bed, think over 
one or two matters, just for five minutes." No sooner do I say 
so, than I begin building castles in the air once more ; I imagine 
great numbers of things, and fancy myself in one situation and 
the other for an hour, two hours, sometimes three ! Away with 
such a practice ! And yet I love it. Like the man who is a 
slave to strong drink, I hate the failing from the bottom of my 
heart, at the same time that I find the greatest pleasure in it, 
and am for ever resolving some day to shake it off. 

But to return. As I have said, I loved the silence, to which 
neither Will's breathing nor the fact that something often rose 
to his throat as if it would choke him, did more than add. 
Mother and I exchanged not a word, but, so I have since 
thought, our fancies, though unconsciously, travelled side by 
side, so completely were our minds absorbed by the self- same 
object. I know not how long we thus remained, but I re- 
member well fancying, a score of times, that I heard someone 
walking up the court-yard towards the house, the footsteps 
dying away within a yard or two of the door. At times I felt 
certain they were Bob's, and held my breath in expectation. 



RHYS LEWIS. 177 

All, however, ended in silence. So sweet were these fancies 
that, as soon as I had finished with one I began upon another, 
and had I not found Will suddenly waking and mother 
springing to her feet, I would not have known whether it was 
in fancy or in fact that I heard someone knocking at the 
door, Before Will had awoke from sleep and I from dreams, 
to welcome Bob, mother had opened the door. But what a 
disappointment ! It was the man I detested with all my soul, 
whom I heard saying to mother ; — 

" Well, Mary, how do you do, this long time ? " 

He it was whom, when I first saw him, I called ** the Irish- 
man," and who stopped me near the Hall Park on the night 
Seth died. It was strange that at every critical juncture of my 
early life this man was sure to appear. I would as soon see 
him as see the Devil. Will perceived in an instant who he was, 
for he knew as much about him as I did, nearly, because, as 
intimated at the beginning of this history, I could conceal but 
little from my friend, who, on his part, never betrayed my 
confidence. Directly mother found out who our visitor was, 
she drew herself up, and I saw she had lost none of that pluck 
which she at all times showed when there was a real necessity 
for it. Standing before " the Irishman," as I called him, in 
such a fashion that it was impossible he could enter the house, 
except by force, she said : — 

"James, I have told you many times I never want to see 
your face again and that you are not to come into this house." 

Will played with the poker, and the Irishman thrust his 
head forward to see who was within. 

•' Isn't that Hugh Bryan's son ? " he asked, looking at Will. 

•* Yes," replied my mother. 

*' I thought 60 by his nose," observed the Irishman. 

"What do you see about my nose, you kill- pheasant, you?" 
asked Will, hotly. 

"William, hold your tongue this minute, is best for you," 
said mother. 

I could read in the Irishman's face that nothing would have 
given him greater pleasure than to wring Will Bryan's neck, 
and that my mother knew, right well. Still toying with the 
poker and muttering his auger, Wiil said to me, softly, " Shall 



178 RHYS LEWIS. 



I give him a downer?" I had only to answer "yes," and 
"Will would have used the poker on the instant. I, however, 
told him to take care, for the Irishman was not a man to be 
trifled with. Will, maintaining his grip of the poker, fixed his 
eye upon that of the visitor as the chick does on the hawk 
■which is about to swoop down upon it, but with this difTerence, 
that Will was not afraid of the onset. I knew from his look 
that had the Irishman laid a hand on mother, or tried to force 
his way into the house, Will would not have stayed to consult 
us as to what use he should put the poker. Mother and the 
Irishman were, by this time, speaking so low that we could 
catch but very few words of what they said. I understood 
her to be exhorting him, earnestly and threateningly, to go 
away. I noticed him look towards Will, and heard him say to 
mother : — *' Can he hold his tongue after to-night? " I could 
not make out my mother's anawer, so softly was it given. All 
of a sudden the two ceased speaking, and I saw the Irishman 
peering in the direction of the yard and turning pale in the 
face. Still, he did not move from where he stood. A moment 
later we heard footsteps approaching the house. In that brief 
space I saw before me a guilty conscience which shook and 
paralysed its owner. Next minute, a hand was laid upon the 
intruders collar, he himself was hurled aside and a voice with 
which those walls had not resounded for two months past was 
heard saying: — 

•' Holloa, gamekeeper ! what do you want here ? " 

I saw no more of the Irishman that night. Bob and John 
Powell walked in, shutting the door after them. I will not 
attempt to describe my mother's joy and mine, because I should 
be ashamed to see it on paper. However paradoxical it might 
appear, the way in which we two testified our happiness was by 
a hearty cry. Thinking the matter over, I fancy Will's method 
of exhibiting his feeling was much the more reasonable one. 
He walked, or rather danced, round the kitchen, whistling: — 

*• When Johnny comes marching home, my boys," 

and running the poker up and down his left arm as if it wore 
a fiddle bow. Will had waltzed several times around before 



RHYS LEWIS. 179 



mother noticed the ungodliness taking place in her house. 
"When she did, she soon put an end to his pranks. 

To my comfort I could not see that his imprisonment had 
wrought any change in Bob's appearance. His face wore the 
same calm thoughtfulness and determination it always wore, 
and there was nothing in his gait to indicate that he had lost a 
particle of his independent spirit. Hard labour was no new 
thing to him, and this, possibly may account for the fact. 
When mother came to herself, she viewed him over from crown 
to sole, and vowed that, like the youths of the captivity, he 
looked all the better for his hard fare. She then began an 
examination and enquiry. Upon her asking him how it was 
he did not come home by the mid-day train, John Powell made 
answer : — 

" I am to blame for that. I got to learn that the workmen 
had determined to make a fuss and an exhibition of Bob, and 
knowing he would not like it, I went to meet him. I kept 
him back until everybody had gone away to bed. I am sure I 
shall catch it for what I've done." 

When Bob came to ask the news, I expected one of the 6rst 
things mother would tell him was that I had been apprenticed 
to Abel Hughes. But I was disappointed, and I am not sorry 
for it. The recollection of her words is a great comfort to me 
at the present moment, for they show clearly where her 
thoughts were domiciled, and what those things were which 
brought her heart its greatest joy. 

•'The best news on earth I have to give you, Bob," she said, 
*' is that Thomas and Barbara Bartley have joined our church, 
and that there is every reason to believe them both to have 
been really converted." 

"And fine fun there was with them," remarked Will. 

••Don t you talk of fun in Society, it's best for you," said 
mother. '* The two were a trifle comical, as you might expect, 
Bob ; but, to my mind, the ring of a call was there, plain 
enough. And I have been thinking a good deal, my dear boys," 
ihe added, glancing around at us four, ''of those words, ' the last 
shall be first.* It would be a hard thing, wouldn't it, il 
Thomas and Barbara, for all their ignorance and drollery, were 



i8o RHYS LEWIS, 



saved in the end, while we children of the kingdom, were cast 
into outer darkness ? " 

Mother spoke much more in the same strain. I never re- 
member seeing Bob so attentive to what she said ; and unless 
there was something the matter with my sight, I fancy his eyes 
filled with moisture more than ouce. Mother was so absorbed 
in her theme that she forgot, for a while, to offer my brother 
and his friend something to eat. But it turned out that both 
had been feasting it somewhere before coming home, and 
mother at last was considerate enough to place the currant 
cake before Will and myself. I say it with a clear conscience : 
if Will and I, under every subsequent circumstance, did our 
duty as well and thoroughly as we did it when the currant cake 
was brought face to face with us on this particular midnight, 
Will would not be where he now is, and I would be a much 
better minister of the Gospel than 1 am. Mother ordered Will 
and myself off to bed. I felt perfectly happy, and according to 
Will's testimony, given the moment before he began to snore, 
the only trouble upon his mind was my refusal to allow him to 
give the Irishman •• a downer." 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

BOB. 

Months went by. The work at Red Fields prospered under 
the management of Abraham Jones, who, by this time, had 
brought the place to order. Expenses were less and profits 
greater than when the "Lankie," as he was called, was over- 
seer , while the workmen received a wage of which they could 
not complain. The unpleasant words ** oppression" and ** in- 
justice" were no longer heard in our house, aud Bob was 
wholly satisfied with his earnings. In a few weeks he paid off 
every farthing of the debt my mother had incurred during his 
imprisonment, and poverty and want were banished our cot. 
But was my mother happy? Bob's wages, as I have said, were 
more than enou_'h to meet the family requirements, and mother 



I^HYS LEWIS. 181 



was no longer compelled to puzzle her head about paying her 
way. To me it appeared that Providence smiled upon us, and 
that our troubles and trials were all at an end. One bitter 
thing, it is true, had a permanent place in our consciousness, 
though none of us ever made mention of it. But, by now, it 
had become an old story of which we took no account, save as 
we did original sin— something of which we could not shake 
ourselves free. As far as I could perceive, the prison had had 
but little effect on Bob's spirit, one way or the other. In his 
hours of leisure he road unremittingly, mother saying he would 
ruin his eyesight, for certain. He came, also, regularly to 
chapel as before ; but, although earnestly pressed, he declined 
to take up again his class in the Sunday School. I must admit 
one other change in him — he never now read the Bible in our 
presence, a fact which troubled mother greatly, for she feared, 
for some time, that he did not read it at all. Generally he sat 
np after mother and I had gone to bed; mother regularly, after 
the device had presented itself to her mind, taking care to place 
the Bible every night in a peculiar position upon the table near 
the window, which enabled her to make sure, next morning 
whether Bob had touched it or not. So much was she 
comforted on perceiving that the Bible had been moved that it 
became her nightly habit to note its precise position on the 
table. Against this change for the worse in Bob must be 
placed his increased love and tenderness towards mother. He 
appeared more respectful in his demeanour, and more tolerant 
of her prejudices. 

But was my mother happy ? I am certain she was not. The 
bloom did not return to her cheek, nor did the black marks dis- 
appear from under her eyes. In the space of three months she 
seemed to have aged ten years. And yet I think the bloom 
would have come back, and the blackness beneath the eyes have 
gone thence, had Bob but said, " Mother, I feel very uneasy, 
and mean to offer myself to the Society next Sunday." But 
the words were never spoken. Often did my mother refer to the 
danger of tribulations, not merely leaving us where we were, but 
driving us farther from God, instead of bringing us gentleness 
of spirit, and making us consecrate and more religiously 
inclined. Bob quite saw the drift of her remarks. But 



1 82 RBYS LEWIS. 



inasmuch ao he persistently took it upon him that they did not 
apply personally to himself, mother, one night, gave up 
parablising, and pressed upon him seriously the duty of be- 
taking himself once more to his religious professions. His 
answer, as near as I can recollect it, was in these words : — 

•* You know that it is not my fault that I do not profess. It 
was not 1 who threw away profession, but the church who took 
it from me. As far as I'm aware, there is nothing different 
in me now from what there was when I professed, except that 
I have been to prison; and that, I should think, does not add to 
my fitness to profess. Were I to offer myself to the church, 
the first question asked— or, at any rate, that ought to be asked 
— me would be, have I repented the fault for which I was ex- 
communicated ? I should be obliged to reply that I have not 
repented, never can repent it. Either the church or I, in that 

case, would look like a . It is the church alone that is 

responsible for my non-profession — if having my name on 
the Society-book means profession. I believe, however, there 
is a higher profession, and a far superior confession of faith. 
There are men to be found — I do not say I am one, lest you 
should tell me, as you did once, that I am self-righteous --but 
there are men, I repeat, whose chief object it is to find out the 
truth, from whatever direction it may come; men who are 
constantly groping for the God of Truth, and who know what 
it is to lose many a night's rest in eager, painful expectation of 
the light. They know well what it is to be grievously wounded 
by doubt and unbelief, and yet they will not give up searching 
for the balm which is to heal them. I call these God's sons, 
even thoueh some of them have not their names on any book 
of the Society. I have, as you know, a deep respect for 
several members of the church as true-principled, piously- 
disposed men, and, after their own fashion, strict disciplinarians. 
But, to me, it does appear strange that they can see only one 
kind of sin. Are Robert Lewis and William the Coal the only 
transgressors ? Can you explain to me why William has been 
many times censured and John Lloyd not ouce ? As far as 1 
know, there is not one who doubts William's innocence, poor 
fellow. His besetting sin is a forgetfulness that his head is not 
strong enough to resist the effects of more than two glasses of 



RHYS LEWIS. 183 



beer, and that lie has a tendency, after overstepping the mark, 
to fall upon his back, or lurch on one side— in which no one 
can, or wants to justify him. But is there, pray, any regula- 
tion by which a man can be called to account for avarice and 
pirsimony ? Are some men to be allowed to go on sowing the 
seeds of discord, persecuting their fellows, and blackening their 
characters, snapping like curs at their heels, living ever on envy 
and bitterness of spirit, always for killing and flaying preachers 
and deacons, merely because they are preachers and deacons? 
' That thou doest do quickly,' said Christ to Judas, and Judas 
obeyed the command. But people like these can't come up 
even to Judas's standard. They sell the Master every day for 
thirty pieces of silver, but they do it leisurely, slowly, without 
haste, and without any sign either, more's the pity, of speedily 
hanging themselves and going to their own place. And yet 
it would appear there is no rule of discipline for folk like 
them. Has the church no punishment save for William the 
Coal and me ? When William took too much drink, every 
letter in the regulations of discipline cried aloud for his 
expulsion, notwithstanding, as Will Bryan says, that he put 
all the fault on Satan. And when I happened to lay the Old 
Soldier on his back, on seeing him cruelly beating my brother, 
the spirit and letter of the rules demanded my expulsion also. 
It's nonsense I call a thing like that. In the gre;it day to come 
— the day when will be revealed the secrets of our hearts— were 
I compelled to stand in either William the Coal's shoes or 
John Lloyd's, I know the ones I'd choose. As you are aware, 
I'm as strict an abstainer as anyone in church, and I think I 
grieve as much as any man over the evils of iutemperance. 
But our God is not the God of temperance alone, is He ? Is 
He not also the God of justice, love, magnanimity and meek- 
ness? The New Testament teaches me He is, pre-eminently 
so. But when did you see Abel Hughes— all respect to Abel ; 
I believe he is a sincere Christian— when did you see him get 
upon his feet to move the excommunication of anyone for 
avarice, hard-heartedness and hard-facedness ? Whom have 
you seen expelled for setting people by the ears ? For perse- 
cuting his betters ? For foul-mouthedness ? No one, I'm 
sure. Not because there are none guilty of such sins; you 



i84 RHYS LEWIS. 



know that as well as I do. Would that Paul lent me his 
authority and the mantle he left behind him at Troas ! You 
should see directly that others besides William the Coal and 
myself were delivered over unto Satan." 

Mother, quiet and self-possessed, heard him right through; 
at which I was greatly surprised, for I remembered a time 
when she would not have suffered him to go on in this way for 
half a minute without setting upon him fluently and un- 
sparingly. Indeed had Bob dared speak as now some six 
months previously, I doubt whether, strong a man as he was, 
she would not have boxed his ears. Now, however, she 
listened attentively to every word ho said, and were they 
the last he spoke from his deathbed, her face could not have 
been more serious and sorrowful. She appeared as one who 
had let go her every hope, as one who, cast down by despair, 
endeavoured to look calm and resigned in the face of doom. I 
was only a lad ; but from childhood upwards my mother had 
drenched me with religious ideas and the terms of divinity, and 
I think I was then quite as competent as I am now to grasp 
the bitterness of her disappointment and her sorrow. I was 
able to follow and understand her words and feelings as she 
answered Bob in such sentences as : — 

"Well, my son, I never expected to live to hear you talk like 
that ; although I must admit having feared it was to this it 
would come. I have tried to listen to you carefully, fearing I 
should misunderstand and misjudge you. I can never tell you 
what my feelings were when you were taken to jail— wrong- 
fully I know, thanks for that. But in the midst of many a 
night, when everybody else was fast asleep, I lay thinking of 
you, till I feared my heart would burst asunder before the 
morniug; and I now fancy, if I'd not tried to believe your im- 
prisonment was something in the Lord's hand to bring you 
back to the fold, that my heart would indeed have broken. Your 
words to-night have disappointed me much, and hurt me 
cruelly. It is evident your soul has gone into a far off 
country, and I much fear you will be left to yourself. I am 
loth to believe that God's Spirit does not wrestle with your 
mind. But remember, my son, there is a danger that you may 
Tex Him, and that there's an end to the patience even of the 



RHYS LEWIS. T85 



Almighty. You can Dever picture the state you'd be in were 
He to say, 'Let him alone.' You spoke of some people whose 
chief object was to find out the truth; and I understood from 
your words that you put yourself in the same bundle with 
them. But what truth do you mean ? If it is the truth about 
God, about sinners, and about eternity, I know you'll never 
get that outside G-od's own Word. And here is what that 
says: — * If ye continue in my word, then are ^-e my disciples 
indeed, and ye shall know the truth. The secret of the Lord is 
with them that fear him.' And the same Word says : 'He thnt 
is not with me is against me ; and he that gathereth not with 
me scattereth abroad. Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and 
of my words in this adulterous and sinfnl generation ; of him also 
shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory 
of his Father with the holy angels.' Who are the people you 
talk about, who lose their sleep in searchin?: for truth, but whose 
names are not on the books of the Society ? I'd like to know 
them, 'cause I never saw anyone prospering very much 
who did not belong to the Society. I can't make you out, 
even if you can yoarself. To speak my mind plain, I think it's 
some notions you've got from those old English books that have 
addled your head. I was sorry to hear you speak in the 
language of the backslider when you were pointing out the 
failings of those who profess. I thought you were above taking 
shelter behind anything of that sort, and although I admit 
there was a deal of truth in what you said, your conscience 
must tell you a story of that kind 'ont hold water before the 
judgment seat. Beware, my son, beware ! I've no wish to 
hurt your feelings, and I wouldn't for the world say anythiug 
to drive you further astray, but really I'd like to hear more of 
the publican ring about you. I, also, try to believe there is no 
difference of condition in you since you have ceased to profess, 
and I can't tell you how glad I am that you continue to come 
to service regularly, and that you haven't given way to sin. 
But I desire you to remember, my son, that when a shower 
comes the rain is always heaviest under the eaves. There is no 
verandah to God's house ; so that if you are not inside, you 
had almost better be out in the open. It is your own business, 
my boy. In a manner of speaking, it is nothing in the world 



1 86 RHYS LEWIS, 



to me ; and yet it is sometliing— as Mr. Hughes of Llangollen, 
says. I shall not be long with you— something tells me so. 
Between one thing and another I begin to feel that I am 
drawing near to some country, for in my soundings I find the 
fathoms getting fewer and fewer every day. But the ship 
would ride much more lightly could I cast into the sea my con- 
cern for you. Between one Euroclydon and the other 1 have 
been rather sorely tossed of late; but the Great Ruler has seen 
fit to show me a creek with a shore to it, more than once, and 
I have taken the hint that my soul shall not be lost. I have 
no desire to live to grow old, because I know I shall only be a 
drag upon you both. * Although ray house be not so with God' 
— you know who I'm referring to, and I hope God will visit the 
Boul of him—* Yet He hath made with me an everlasting 
covenant.' Rhys, I really believe, is in a place where both 
eoul and body'll have fair play, and if I only saw you. 
Bob, like you used to be, I wouldn't care how soon I was 
called away. The eternal world is quite new to me, and I 
do not know what change I must go through before entering 
it ; but at present I can't see how I'm going to be happy, even 
in Heaven, without the knowledge that I have left my two 
sous zealous in the cause of the dear old Methodists." 

Mother wiped her eyes with her apron which, according to 
her old habit, she began to pleat. While she was referring to 
her departure, which we never before heard her do, her words 
fall upon my ears, not as tbe complaint of the hypochondriac, but 
as the utterance of a prophet of God who was speaking the 
awful truth. My heart jumped to my throat. I looked at Bob, 
and found his eyes wet. As I said before, Bob was a most 
difficult one to move, once he had formed an opinion ; but he 
had a remarkably tender heart, and his love towards mother 
was intense. Did the need ariso, he would have died lor her, 
any day. I noticed his whole soul was stirred, and that it wag 
only by a great eflfort he could control his emotion. I fancy ho 
and I felt like those disciples of old when Paul told them they 
should look upon his face no more. After a brief silence, Bob 
said, — 

"I can't understand, mother, why you should grieve so 
much on my account, and especially why you should talk of 



EHYS LEWIS. 187 

dying and leaving us. You are no 'drag* upon me at all; 
and as long as I have health and strength it will be my chiefest 
p easure to make you happy and comfortable. Why do you 
repine ? Do you see any falling off in my character ? "What 
difference would it make in my condition supposing the church 
rose their hands, and Abel Hughes wrote my name on the 
book? I know you would not wish me to dissemble; and 
even if you did, I would never do so. It is as painful to me as 
it is to you that we cannot see eye to eye. But I say again— 
and you shall think, if you like, that I am self-righteous— that 
I hate hypocrisy with a perfect hatred. I cannot pretend that 
I feel, this way and that, if I do nothing of the kind. I 
know as well as you do that it is a privilege for any man to 
be a religious professor ; but then the church has deprived me 
of it, and what help have I ? Perhaps you will say I have 
transgressed? But I say no; for I will never believe that 
relii:ion is antagonistic to the best feelings of human nature. 
If, to-morrow morning, I saw the strong chastise the weak, 
and knew myself to be stronger than the strong, I would make 
him show his heels to the sun that very instant, and would 
leave for work with a calm conscience that I had done nothing 
but my duty. Besides, you must admit that Heaven will 
have but a very scanty population if none are to enter it but 
those who have their names on the books of the Methodist 
Society. I know you're not so narrow-minded as to think 
that."' 

" Will you answer me one question ? " said mother. 

" A hundred if I can," replied Bob. 

" Good," returned mother. " If you answer two or three, 
to my satisfaction, I shall feel perfectly easy. Do you see 
yourself a miserable sinner eternally and hopelessly lost, on 
your own account ? Do you see in the Lord Jesus Christ 
a perfect and sufficient Saviour ? Do you feel that you must 
rely entirely upon his deservedness for your salvation ? And 
is your conscience perfectly easy, as you say, that you are upon 
the path of duty ? " 

I saw from Bob's face that he had been squeezed into a corner. 
For some time he made no reply ; mother meanwhile fixing 
him with her eve as if she meant to read his verv soul. 



1 88 HBYS LEWIS, 



'• You know," he said presently, ** that it is but few, even of 
the professors, who can answer questions like those, clearly 
and unequivocally ? '* 

** What am I to understand by 'unequivocally?'" she asked. 
•* Don't try to hide your meaning in words which are beyond 
me." 

"Well," replied Bob, "we'll put 'unequivocally' on one 
side. I say again, it is but few even of the really religious who 
are able to answer your questions clearly and without hesitation 
or doubt. And I believe you hardly expect me to answer 
them authoritatively. If I am able to do so after reaching 
your age I shall be thankful. I do not want to conceal my 
meaning from you, so I must confess it is in darkness I am, 
up to now, and that I am but feeling the way. I can 
honestly say I continue to grope, but spiritual truths appear to 
escape me. I assure you that my soul's cry is—' Light, light, 
more light I' At times I think I have it— from on high; but 
it is only as a lightning flash, which leaves me in greater 
darkness than before. At other times I geb another kind of 
light— from below; in following which I find myself among 
the bogs and marshes, whereupon I become aware the light is 
that of a corpse-candle. What am I to do ? I am not willing 
to shut my eyes and sit, despairing, in the dark. If I did that 
I should be like Satan, of whom Goronwy Owen says that he 

' Loves lurking in the great abyss.' 

I do not love the darkness ; I rub my eyes, stand a-tiptoe, and 
crane my neck for some sign of morning. All I see, however, 
is the night shaking out black sheets across the sideless 
bed of truth. I had resolved not to say anything to you 
about the state of my mind, for I knew it would pain you. I 
am already sorry that I did not keep it all to myself; and yet 
I could not, since you questioned me. I know you do not 
understand me. To you who are ever living in the midst of 
the light, my words seem mad; but I can assure you they are 
the words of truth and soberness. I have gathered from your 
talk, for some time, that you believe me to be careless with 
respect to religious matters ; but the Omniscient knows that I 
am not so. And yet t!h© future is utterly dark to me. I am 



rniYS LEWIS. 189 



certain there is light beyond, somewhere ; the thickness of the 
night assures me of that, to say nothing of the enjoyment I see 
you at all times taking in it. Why it is ■withheld from me I do 
not know. I, every day, go down into the darkness of the 
coal-pit, but there I have my lamp ; when I try to delve in the 
world of mind and spirit, the darkness is quite as great, and 
my lamp goes out. What have I done, more than some other 
sinner, to prevent the dawn from breaking upon my soul? 
Perhaps you can tell me. I feel I am not as other people. I 
smile and laugh so as to be like my companions, but my heart 
is ever sad, my spirit ever weeps and makes moan. How can 
I laugh when I do not know the minute a mass of coal may 
crush me into yet deeper darkness than the one I am already 
in ? Perhaps you will bid me pray ; but are not the aspira- 
tions of the soul one constant prayer ? And when I put my 
desires into words, they come back to me, saying, ' No reply.' 
O, wretched man that I am ! " 

Mother, with an effort at cheerfulness, said, *'Well, my 
dear boy, I'm afraid you're in the melancholy. I used to think 
no one was troubled with that but the preachers of old, and I 
haven't heard of it troubling any of them since the time ot 
Michael Roberts of Pwllheli. You are low-spirited, my son ; 
you must take a little physic and a change of air. There's 
nothing in the world like it, they say. Sing a bit, my boy ; 
I'll help you." And mother began, as best she could, the 
hymn — 

*' O Uubelief, how great thy pow'r I 

A wound to me thou'st given ; 
Spite which I'll trust, to my last hour, 

The greater grace of Heaven." 

From that minute mother changed her tone and demeanour 
towards Bob. She spoke consolingly and encouragingly to 
him. But he only shook his head, as much as to say she did 
not understand him. 

I think it must have been a fortnight or so after the fore- 
going conversation, that I was returning from the country 
where I had taken a shop parcel— my first months with Abel 
Hughes were occupied mostly in running errands. It was a 



I90 RHYS LEWIS, 



lovely night, and I was "well acquainted with the way, knowing 
every house, hedgerow, wall, gate and milestone. I fancied 
the trees gave me each a " Good Night" as I went past, as if 
to show that they rememembered me well since the time TVill 
Bryan and I came birds'-nesting and nutting that way. Even 
at that early period I was, methinks, a bit of a dreamer, able 
to enjoy the romantic scenery and the profound calm. Ever 
since I can remember I have preferred the country to the town. 
I always feel that the noise and bustle of the town hinder one 
from hearing the voice of God speaking through nature. The 
night, because of its silence, has had a great charm for me. 
People would laugh, possibly, at the notion were they to read it ; 
but true it is that I have often wondered why police-officers are 
not more refined and spiritual than other men. Think of the 
time they have for study, in God's air, in the deep silence of the 
night, "the blue glittering firmament," as John Jones, Talsarn, 
describes it, overhead, and all around wrapped in heavy 
slumber. What a glorious opportunity for communing with 
nature and with God, in the deep silence, unbroken by aught, 
save an occasional dog-bark at some farm house in the far-off 
distance. If it were not for the other duties connected with the 
office, I should like to be a policeman, for the sake of being out 
at night! But whither am I straying? I was, I repeat, 
returning from the country, fanciful and happy, thinking little 
of anything unpleasant awaiting me. On nearing home I saw 
numbers of people running towards the town. I hurried after 
them, and speedily overtook a lame old collier, making in the 
same direction. I asked him what the people were running for ? 

His reply was— "An explosion, my boy, at Eed Fields 
Colliery." 

The words seemed to give me wings. My feet did not 
appear to touch the ground. I was lifted and carried along, as 
it were, by the whirlwind of fears which rushed upon my 
heart. Leaving the high road, I took a straight line for home, 
leaping walls, hedges, stiles, totally unconscious of any obstacle 
in the way. How selfish of me ! I thought of no one but 
Bob. Was he amongst the injured? According to the time of 
day he should have been home, long before this, for his turn 
finished at seven o'clock. And yet it was only a few minutes 



RBYS LEWIS. 191 

past seven now ! Supposing Bob were burnt to death, what 
should I do ? Had the fire not touched him, how glad I should 
be ! But if it had reached his face— what a pity ! Fancy 
his having lost an eye— how ugly he would look ! 0, the 
thoughts that ran through my brain as I devoured the distance 
between me and a full knowledge of all ! Very speedily I got 
within sight of the house, and found Bob had come home. 
But how? In a trolly filled with straw, supported by two men, 
one on either hand of him. I was at his side in an instant. I 
heard him groan, as they were carrying him. uptairs. Mother 
was deathly pale, but perfectly calm ; Bob, black as the coal, 
and charred to a cinder, lay quite still. His bright and 
intelligent eyes had been burnt clean out of his head ; and yet 
he was alive. I would not have known him from all the people 
in the world. The works' surgeon. Dr. Bennett, who was in 
the room, shook his head as if there were no hope. I envied 
him the great tear I saw stealing down his cheek, because, for 
once, I could not cry. Trouble is sometimes so sharp and 
severe that our usual tokens of it refuse their services from 
very diffidence. So was it with mother and me at this juncture. 
We could not weep. Someone, I forget who, having given him 
a draught of water, Bob appeared to revive, and we heard him 
distinctly say : — 

"Mother!" 

*' Can you see a little, my son?" asked mother on approach- 
ing him. 

She did not know that he had lost both eyes. 

'• Yes, mother," he replied. "The light has come at last.' 

A second or two later he added, in English, — " Doctor, it is 
broad daylight." 

Next minute Bob had left behind him all the doubt and the 
darkness to others and to me. 



192 RHYS LEWIS. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

REMINISCENCES, SAD AND CONSOLATORY. 

One precious privilege of a rural district is thrt seldom any 
sudden catastrophe happens to plunge it into grief and sorrow. 
Not so with the neighbourhood of large works. There the 
morn sometimes opens its tender eyelids upon a scene already 
awake and bustling, smiles upon it sweetly, as a happy child 
upon the mother found by his cradle when he awakes. Droves of 
colliers may be discerned turning out of their houses, with lamps 
hanging from their belts. The patter of their clogs along the 
hard road and uneven pavement makes music unto the ears of 
some Welshwomen I have known, while it re-awakens the 
sorrow of here and there a widow, who comes to the door with one 
child in her arms and another clinging to her apron, and looks 
after the crowd, as if expecting John to return. If you observe, 
you shall see a well-built powerful man hastening out of his 
house, with a step of pride at the thought that he is going forth to 
labour for wife and children. Before he has taken many paces a 
tiny, bare-footed, bare-legged, half-dressed boy, not wholly 
clean, for there are remnants of last night's supper upon his 
round, fat face, runs after him; the father, in his hurry, having 
forgotten to kiss him before setting out. Reminded of his 
remissness, he takes the child up on his strong, broad breast, 
and, regardless of the mixture upon the cheek, gives him a 
sounding kiss, at which the mother, who by this time has got 
to the doorway, laughs right merrily. Is there one of them 
who dreams that that kiss shall be the last ? The pit-engine — 
heart of the district— pulsates rapidly and regularly. The 
smoke of the great stack ascends in thick, black columns, 
straight to heaven, the morning being fair, and God— as I 
used to fancy when a boy— being in need of the smoke to make 
clouds with! Team after team, wagon after wagon, may be 
found coming from the pit's head, laden with the best coal; the 
wagoner, knee-breeched, and with whip on shoulder, walking 
as if he had one foot in a furrow, and making furtive eyes at 
all he meets, to see whether they have noticed his well-fed 



RHYS LEWIS. 193 

hojses, whose tails he took such trouble, the night before, to 
plait and tie with blue and yellow ribbon. Children play about 
the streets, make fun of the wagoner's thin shanks, and 
mimic his fashion of putting a "y" after his horses' names: 
" Boxer-y," *'Blaze-y," and the rest. "Our man" pays no 
heed to them. All appear happy and contented, from the 
obese butcher— half asleep in his shop chair, in the interval 
between his customers' visits, and looking as if long poring 
over fat had made him, also, * fit for the knife " — to the lean, 
sallow-faced cobbler, going homewards at a jog trot with an 
apron full of mending jobs. Although still early, the tidiest 
among the colliers' wives are already in Mr. Eoberts's shop, 
looking out something nice for their husbands' dinners ; for 
how can men work hard if they have nothing to their taste to 
eat? They earn good money, so why should they not have a 
few delicacies found them now and then ? There is a thriving 
louli about the business establishments, whose owners employ 
tne morning's respite to remove the dust and put things in 
order. The ancient dame who keeps the toy shop is said to 
have an *'old stocking." And what wonder? Watch the 
boys, of every age and size, going to school, and you shall see 
them, all of a row, slates slung over shoulder, scored with the 
pt'evious night's home lesson— from the strokes of the boy, to 
the vulgar fractions of the stripling — all of a row, I say, flatten- 
ing their noses against the window pane, and vowing each to 
have his toy with his next allowance of pocket money. Happy 
creatures ! 

But, possibly within the hour, the news will have run like 
wild-fire that there has been a "fall" underground, and that 
so many men have been killed ; or that the water has broken 
in, and that so many have been drowned or shut up in the 
upper portions of the work. Lamentations, loud and deep, are 
heard all over the neighbourhood. The lad who, on his way 
to school in the morning, had looked forward to his father's 
assistance in buying a bat, finds himself, before mid- day, 
an orphan. The stalwart father, in the flower of health, 
whom we saw lifting his child like a feather upon his breast, 
for his morning kiss is brought home at night in a trolly, dead. 
Ye simple folk of Anglesey ! AVhat know ye of sudden heart- 



194 RHYS LEWIS. 

rending visitations such as these ? When, in long nights of 
winter, ye sit warming yourselves by your coal fires — not 
those of peat— remember that that which ye enjoy is often 
bought with blood ! 

When the explosion took place at the Red Fields pit, which 
caused the death of my brother Bob and divers others, there 
was, of course, not a moment's warning; and the neighbour- 
hood which, a few minutes before, was all peace and happiness, 
was plunged into sore and indescribable sorrow. Every work- 
man had his Davy lamp, so that how the accident happened no 
one knew, and no one ever did know. It was not, however, 
the why and the wherefore of the occurrence that troubled the 
bereaved — amongst them mother and myself— but the results. 
Mother lost a son who, since a mere youth, had stood her in a 
husband's stead, upon whom she was wholly dependent for her 
livelihood, and whom she loved much better than her own life. 
I know she did not concern herself much about me ; but there 
was never a day, nor an hour of the day, that her soul was not 
entwined with Bob's. As for me, I lost a brother of brothers, to 
whom I felt indebted for nearly all I possessed in the shape of 
learning. Even to this minute I feel certain I should be some- 
thing wholly different to what I am but for him. If I 
attempted to describe my grief at his loss I should make my- 
self an object of contempt in these my reminiscences. I 
envied mother, whom I saw holding up so bravely, whilst I 
was but a worthless, inert mass. How precious now is the re- 
membrance of her behaviour ! Were all the works of the 
Puritan fathers, and everything ever written on behalf of 
Christianity, placed in one great pile before me, and could I, 
by one single effort, comprehend the whole of their reasoning, 
my mother's calmness and self-restraint in the face of this 
terrible affliction would present an infiniteh' stronger argu- 
ment, to my mind, of the truth and divinity of the religion of 
the Gospel. Did she feel as deeply as other women bereaved by 
this catastrophe, who screamed and became hysterical ? She 
did, and much more so, I shall believe. But she had some 
hidden spiritual support to fall back upon which enabled her 
to view the most direful calamity as but an indispensable verse 
in the ch;^pter of her life, without which the context could not 



RHYS LEWIS. 195 



be made clear. It was not her physical strength which 
sustained her, for, to my sorrow, I perceived that that had foi 
some time been rapidly declining. In lier foolish fancy she 
had thought Bob the smartest, handsomest fellow in the 
neighbourhood, and suspected every girl who came to the 
house of having designs upon him. So dreadfully disfigured 
was he by the fire that she resolved, the moment his 
spirit fled, she would never look upon his face again. When 
his coffin was brought home (fearful object in a cot with 
no room in it to which to escape the sight!) mother gave 
the carpenter strict orders to screw it down at once. She was 
jealous lest a grim curiosity should lead someone to gaze upon 
the unsightly features. Is it not a fact that when those we love 
are overtaken by death— by sudden death more particularly — 
the failmgs and faults which were theirs when living retreat 
into the distance and grow smaller to the view ? Memory does 
not care to look upon the departed ones save in their Sunday 
best. I was quite sure mother had prayed a deal for Bob, and 
bad troubled greatly about his condition, although there was 
nothing in his conduct to need the intercession, with the sole 
exceptions of his taciturnity and the fact that he had not, for 
some time, been a member of the church. But now his buri.t 
body lay at rest between four boards in the loft, she did not 
seem to concern herself in the slightest about the safety of his 
soul, at length far removed from all human aid. I remember 
well, after a silence of about an hour, occupied in pleating her 
apron and staring abstractedly into the fire, that she asked me: 
^' "What said he"— using the pronoun as if we had been talking 
of him only a minute previously—'* What said he, tell me, in 
English to Dr. Bennett?" 

•' That it was broad daylight," I replied. 

** And what did the doctor say ? " 

*' That he was beginning to ramble," was my answer. 

"I thought that was what he said; so Festus told Paul 
— 'Thou art beside thyself.' 'The natural man receiveth not 
the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, 
because they are spiritually discerned.' " And she added, as if 
to herself, " Jiamble indeed ! No fear of Bob's rambling. It 



196 RHYS LEWIS, 



was of the spiritual light he spoke— that for which he 
had been groping, as he used to say. * And there shall be light 
in the evening! ' Wonderful! Wonderful! Obliged to lose 
both eyes before beginning to see ! * For judgment I am come 
into this world, that they which see not might see.' I would 
rather than a good deal had he been professing; but I never 
considered him irreligious. Abel Hughes always said Bob had 
a better grain about him than the half of us. But what makes 
my mind easiest is his saying, a fortnight ago, that he was not 
careless about the things of religion, and that the cry of his 
Boul was for the light. God has said, ' Ye shall seek me and 
find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.' ' I 
said not unto the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in vain.' 'Ask and 
it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find,' said the 
Saviour on the Mount. I shall not readily believe Bob to be 
lost. I hope I'm not sinning, but I feel so certain he is in 
heaven that, if I go there myself, as I expect I shall, and find 
him not there, it will be enough to destroy utterly all my 
happiness." 

Well, there is nothing for me, at this moment, but to trust 
that my mother's faith was true. Some learned man, reading 
what I am about to say, would, doubtless, laugh at me. Let 
him laugh. But I believe that pious people, however ignorant 
they may be, possess some sort of spiritual perception, and 
receive, perhaps unconsciously, some kind of telegraphic com- 
munications from the eternal world, which are not permitted to 
the Godless or, if permitted them, not understood. I am 
perfectly well aware that this notion is incompatible with 
the knowledge of some able men in this (enlightened) age 
— an age in which religious people are often looked upon as 
old-fashioned, and the Bible is considered a harmless little 
book enough, the promise being hinted that the discoveries 
of science will shortly enable the boy at school to write upon 
his slate, between breakfast and dinner, all the mysteries 
of nature, the secrets of being, and the aspirations of the im- 
mortal soul. 

Although my recollection of it is still fresh, I neither wish 
nor intend to linger long over the period when that which was 
mortal of my brother lay waiting to be taken from our eight for 



RIJYS LEWIS. 197 



ever. Were I to attempt a description of my feelin gs at the time, 
it might be regarded by some of those who took the trouble to read 
this autobiography as a want of taste in the writer. Although 
eyery family knows Death, yet is he at all times a stranger. He 
risits us unasked, and is never anywhere welcome. And the 
less welcome the more likely is he speedily to return. I know 
I am relating a not uncommon experience when I say that is a 
strange and wonderful occasion on which the body of a beloved 
one lies in the same house with us, aid we are waiting the hour 
appointed by the custom of the country and what is considered 
propriety, for its conveyance to its last resting place. How 
difficult it is to realise that he who the day before, looked at us, 
spoke to us, ate, drank and walked about as we did, is now lying 
still and cold, dumb and deaf. How cruel it seems to leave him 
in a room all by himself. The season is inclement, and we 
have lit no fire. How hard! Does he think us unkind towards 
him ? Would he so leave us ? "We know him to be — him 
— far away from us ; and yet are conscious, all the time, that 
he is in the adjoining room ; else why do we speak so softly, as 
if we were afraid to wake him ? How slowly the hours drag ! 
How unfeeling is that practice of shutting out the light of day, 
and making one night of the occasion, as if we had not night 
enough already in the soul ! The gloom becomes oppressive, 
and the desire to get everything over grows strong. What ! 
Are we in a hurry to bury him ? no ; the dear one ! But 
the time is long and cheerless. We try to read ; the eye looks 
at the book, but the mind wanders ofl' to some strange place. 
The slightest movement makes us listen, and listen eagerly. 
Our ear is strained in the direction of the next room. How like 
the sound of his well-known cough ! Did he move ? All is 
but fancy ; the house is as quiet as the grave. We drop into a 
slumber of short duration and, on awaking, doubt whether we 
have not been in a dream. We go over the whole of the 
circumstances once more. Everything appears in a diflFerent 
aspect now. By this time life, wealth and fame have lost their 
charm for us. Yaiu are the things of this world in our sight ; 
and we wonder how anyone can devote himself to matters 
earthly, particularly how he can laugh; forgetful that we 
ourselves, a few days previously, were guilty of the like 



198 RHYS LEWIS. 



conduct, and that in a short time to come we shall again be 
exactly as we were. The number of good resolutions we form; 
all to be sadly qualified, if not entirely forgotten in two 
months' time ! Death is a black and hideous monster ; but it 
throws some gleams of light on things even for the living. 
How much more so for him it takes away ? 

When death has ploughed the heart, and trouble has softened 
it, the evangelist and the man of counsel have an excellent 
opportunity of sowing the good seed, which then finds a 
*' deepness " with ease. And though the earth should harden 
again, still the seed may some day sprout, and, breaking forth 
through its crusted covering, bear fruit, possibly a hundred 
fold. The visits of the chapel friends to mother and me in 
our trouble brought us a blessing and a comfort such as I can 
neither properly describe nor value. I recollect my mother 
saying that next to the priceless promises of Scripture and her 
faith in God as Over-ruler of all, she valued the cheering words 
of the religious brethren and sisters. They were not a few who 
came to comfort us, and not the least faithful among them were 
Thomas and Barbara Bartley ; both so childish, so simple, and 
showing a sympathy so real and so genuine that it was im- 
posaible not to prize it. Mother could hardly help smiling at 
some of Thomas's artless questions, such as : — 

" Mary, do you think Bob has told Soth yet that Barbara 
and I have come to the Society? That is, if they have dropped 
across one another, for there's such a crowd of them, isn't 
there?" 

"For all I know, it may be he has, Thomas," leplied mother. 

"They'll light on each other some day, surely," said Thomas. 
'* Two men will meet before two mountains, so they say." 

After a minute's silence he resumed : — 

" Barbara and I thought a deal about you last night, Mary, 
and we couldn't in no way see what on this blessed earth you 
are to do now, 'cept come to us to live. We have as much 
room as you want, and a hundred thousand welcomes, is'nt 
there, Barbara ? We've made the place ready for you, and you 
two must come over to-night. You don't bury Bob till the 
day after to-morrow, and why should you stay here breaking 
your heart, eh Barbara ? " 



RHYS LEWIS. 199 



Barbara gave a nod. 

••Your'e very kind and yery neiglibourly, Thomas." said 
mother; " but I can't for a moment think of leaving Bob by 
himself here ; though 'tis all a fancy." 

"To be shwar," observed Thomas. "I never thought of 
that. No, no, honour bright ; now I come to think of it, it 
would look a bit cold in you to leave him, 'specially since 
you've no fear. But we shall talk of that some other time." 

" What have I to fear, Thomas? There is here but the poor 
body— the empty house." 

" It was not to that I was referring," returned Thomas. 

Mother guessed what he meant. Thomas knew more of our 
history than I was aware of. Mother nodded her thanks for 
his though tfulness, and said : " The door has a lock and a bar 
to it. Thomas." 

" To be shwar. But you must come over the day after to- 
morrow. "We'll think no more of the bit of food you'll eat 
than of a chicken's." 

The day after to-morrow came, but my reminiscences are 
dark and confused. I felt as if in a dream. Two impressions 
are left upon my mind, which I can easily read to-day, namely, 
that there were a great many people at the funeral, and that 
Will Bryan walked beside me, with a good-sized box-plant 
under his left arm and a bag filled with sand in his right 
hand. I have some faint recollection of hearing Mr. Brown's 
deep voice hurrying through the burial service, and a vivid one 
of Will Bryan on his knees by the grave-side sanding it, and 
planting it with box. Little did I then think how soon he 
would be at the same task again I Will was usually a very 
talkative fellow but, when feeling deeply for another, he was 
silent, always. He spoke not a word till we were half way 
home from the churchyard. I remember well his remark, 
which was : — 

" Ehys, do you know what Bob would say if he knew Mr. 
Brown was going to bury him ? He'd have used Bobbie 
Burns's last words—' Don't let that awkward squad shoot over 
my grave ! ' That's what he'd have said, I'll take oath." 

Will was evidently thinking of Bob's wrongful committal to 
prison by Mr. Brown in his capacity of a justice of the peace, 



200 RHYS LEWIS. 



and was, doubtlessly, expressing my brother's feelings to the 
letter. 

Tbe reader— should I have one— will remember that Thomas 
Bartley was but a young convert. Old habits and notions, 
not strictly consonant to the religious profession, often showed 
themselves in him. Although ready and willing enough to re- 
nounce them, he could not do so without a bit of a wrench. On 
the day of Bob's burial, Thomas asked my mother whether she 
did not mean to provide a little bread and cheese and beer for 
the people, adding it was in the '* Brown Cow," he thought, they 
kept the best beer, and hinting, plainly enough, he would take 
all the expense upon himself. While thanking him for his 
kindness, mother took pains to show him the unseemliness of 
the custom of feasting at funerals, and especially of bringing 
intoxicating drink to table. 

"To be shwar, Mary," said Thomas. "You're the best 
judge. You know more of your Bible'n I do, and I always 
give in to you. But I thought it might look a little cold not to 
have a bit or a drop for anybody." 

Mother met our good friends' wishes half way by permitting 
Barbara, on the return from the funeral, to provide toa, and to 
invite a few of her nearest neighbours to partake of it and to 
talk of the dead, a proceeding which eased Thomas's conscience 
not a little. The guests having gone and mother, I, Thomas 
and Barbara being left to ourselves, Thomas, after musing a 
while, said, — 

"Now, Mary, you must pack out of this. Why should you 
stay here breaking your heart ? People never do any good, 
living by themselves. You've no notion how comfortable we'll 
all be together. It'll save Barbara and I from coming over to 
hear you expounding. D'ye know what ? It'll be as good as 
a sermon for us to have you yonder; and, as I've said, we 
shan't miss your bit of food any more'n if you were a chick." 

"I don't know how to thank you enough for your kindness," 
replied mother. " But after your mention of a certain matter 
the other night, I have made up my mind to accept your warm- 
hearted invitation, on condition that I shall pay for my place 
as long as my money will hold out. I have a little put by ; I 



jRHYS LEWIS. 201 



shall have a little more for the things here, and possibly that 
may be enough to last me as long as I am with you." 

""We'll settle all that again," said Thomas, filling his pipe. 

I was fairly bewildered. I had never dreamt my mother 
would stoop to receive a kindness, even from Thomas Bartley, 
until circumstances absolutely compelled her to do so. I knew 
that independence of mind and a dread of being a burden to 
anybody were marked traits in her character. Barbara was 
helping her on with her cloak and bonnet when the reason 
suddenly occurred to me why mother had so readily accepted 
Thomas Bartley's invitation. 

It was her fear of our old visitor. 

A few minutes later we were all four on our way to the 
Tump, for so was Thomas Bartley's house called. I remember, 
at this very minute, the order in which we travelled — not much 
unlike a railway train : Thomas leading, like the locomotive, 
the smoke from his pipe wreathing in the night air ; I at his 
heels, with mother after me, as passenger carriages; and 
Barbara, who was somewhat stout, like a luggage van behind, 
wobbling along pretty much as the tail end of a train does. All 
four were silent, save when Barbara, who was troubled with 
rheumatism, would groan, like the luggage van when its 
wheels want greasing, and Thomas, like the locomotive, would 
give a whistle in the form of: " are you coming, you women 
there?" Of course, I am only describing the jouri:ey as I look 
upon it now, and not as I looked upon it then. The thou^-ht 
of leaving the old house in which I was bred and born, where 
I had spent many a happy hour, and round which all my 
memories gathered, filled my heart with sadness. This was my 
first night from home. I had always considered the Tump a 
model of cosiness and comfort, and our welcome to it was real 
and unfeigned. But when I came to go to bed— the bed in 
which Seth died, and which was much easier lying than 
the one at home— such a heavy storm of regret for the old 
house, for Bob, and for the old days, overtook me that I had to 
hide my head in the bed clothes, and stuff the sheets into my 
irouth to prevent myself from crying aloud. In the mornino- 
mother saw by my swollen eyes how I had spent the night, and 
a sob rose to her throat, but she choked it back before it found 



202 RHYS LEWIS. 



utterance. I noticed Thomas Bartley making efforts to keep 
us cheerful, and to divert our minds from our trouble. He 
took us to the yard to see the pigs and fowls, talking cease- 
lessly the -whole of the time. Mother paid great attention to 
everything he said ; but I knew she did not consider him 
speaking to edification. He ran on something in this fashion : 

**Mary, here's the best pigs I ever had to thrive. I wouldn't 
give a fig for one as wasn't mischievous. These would eat the 
trough if they didn't get their food in time. That one without 
a tail is reg'lar master of the place. I always rear two— they 
thrive much better— kill one and sell t'other. I never give 'em 
India meal, 'cause the bacon when you put it before the fire'U 
melt to nothing before it's done. Taters and oatmeal's the 
best stuff for fattening a pig, if you want good bacon. You 
may boil a little nettles now and then for 'em as a change. 
There's nothing better for a pig's as lost his appetite than to mix 
red raddle with his food. What's in grains, for a pig ? Nothing 
at all. D'ye know what, Mary, I'd never eat bacon if I had 
to buy that American stuff. How can yo\x tell what they 
fatten their animals with out there? They say American 
pigs eat those Blacks who die out in the woods; and I'll 
b'leeve it easy enough. Holloa, Cobbin ! are you there ? 
There's a bird for you, Mary ! If that white feather wasn't in 
his tail he'd be pure game. Look at his breast ! Black as the 
wimberry. I've seen the time, before I came to religion, 
I'd have cut that cock's comb for him; but something tells 
me it is'nt right, somehow; it's as if you were trying to 
better the work of the Almighty. I don't find these game 
hens great layers, only their eggs are more rich. Barbara 
(with a shout), is breakfast ready ? Eight ; we'll come 
directly. Fowls pay very well, Mary, if they're well fed. Did 
you ever see how fond you are getting of them already ? They 
look so well settled down when they hold their heads to one 
side. Let's go into the house now, and see what the old 
woman's got for us. I don't know how you feel, but / leel as 
if I could eat a horse's head." 

After breakfast I set out for the shop, and mother came to 
send me a part of the way, in order to have a word with me in 
private. 



RHYS LEWIS. 203 



'* I see," she said, placing a hand upon my shoulder, '* that 
you are fretting. You must buckle-to, my son. We must 
both, look you, submit and not give way. You are but 
"beginning life as it were ; I am drawing towards the end. If 
you're a good and obedient boy— and I believe you will be — 
Ood will take care of you. Set to work to please your master, 
and by pleasing your master you will please God. I'll come, 
directly, to ask Abel Hughes to let you sleep at his house, 
because it won't do to impose too much upon our friends' kind- 
ness. You shall run over every evening, after shutting shop, 
to see how we are getting along, if you like. The only thing 
that troubles me is the fear of being obliged to ask for parish 
relief. But perhaps I shall be spared that, again. I have 
saved a little monev, which may possibly last as long as I 
shall." 

I, too, tried to say the thing which was on my mind, but the 
words stuck to my throat, and all I could do was to cry. My 
mother pressed my head to her breast and, when I had wept 
my grief away, dried my eyes with her apron, saying, "There! 
off you go now, and don't forget what I told you." 

So I went; and so I did, I trust. On the road I could not 
help thinking of my mother's dread of going on the parish, and 
the reflection made me sorry that I was neither of age nor of 
position to support her. Only a few months had passed since 
she had spoken so freely and loftily to Mr. Brown, the clergy- 
man, to whom she expressed the hope that she would never be 
obliged to seek help from either "parish or parson;" and 
doubtless that little quarrel between her and the vicar was 
alive and bitter in her memory still. I was quite sure at the 
time that she would have much preferred throwing herself 
upon the mercy of that relieving officer general for all the 
children of adversity— Death— than stoop to Parson Brown. 
And I feared there was something in her voice and words that 
morning which showed that that had been her prayer. 



204 RHYS LEWIS, 



CHAPTER XXV. 

AN ELEGY IN PROSE. 

Before bringing to an end what I consider to be tbe second 
epoch of my history, and before saying anything of the time I 
found myself alone and realising the fact that I had entered 
upon the battle of life, I must deal a little further with two or 
three characters who have already received no small notice 
from me— one of them more particularly. 

During the whole period of my mother's stay with Thomaa 
and Barbara Bartley she found a fostering care and attention, 
at their hands as great as any she could have expected 
or desired. Her chief employment, as long as she lived at 
the Tump, was the preparation of the two old folt for ad- 
mission into full church membership; and that was no slight 
task. It took her some weeks to coach them, as the saying is, 
before she felt sufficiently confident in asking Abel Hughes to 
call them forward for reception. When that took place, there 
was a deal of amusement in the Society. Their answers were 
simple and original, causing some to laugh, others to cry, and 
a few to lauirh and cry, both. The limits I have set myself 
will not permit a description of the occurrences at tbat 
Society. In answering some questions Thomas would look 
doubtfully and half in fear ut mother, just as some lad may be 
seen watching his father while reciting his verse at church 
meeting; and he referred to her, more than once, in words, as 
an authority in doctrine. On the whole, Thomas gave pretty 
general satisfaction with respect to his knowledge and fitness 
for admission. Not altogether so \veil did Barbara pass her 
examination. It was very difficult to get more Irom her than that 
she thought and felt, " same as Thomas." Barbara clearly 
looked upon herself as a duplicate of her husband, and inasmuch 
as Thomas had answered aright, she seemed to think it needless 
wasting time with her. The two, as I have observed in a previous 
chapter, thought and acted exactly alike, with a unison and 
similarity such as that of two eyes on one string. Now I 
call them to mind, I am almost tempted to go a step further. 



RHYS LEWIS. 205 



and to say that they liad the same consciousness, and that there 
"was more of identity than of individuality in them. They 
were like a clock with two faces, always indicating, to 
the minute, the same time of day. On the strength of 
Thomas's answers Barbara, like himself, was unanimously 
received into church membership, with all its pririleges. The 
old couple went home that night arm in arm, close-joined as a 
double-kernelled nut, feeling excessively happy and magnify- 
ing the importance of the event. Mother had looked forward 
to the occasion with the greatest interest and anxiety, for she 
regarded Thomas and Barbara as special disciples of her own. 
And I know she took pleasure in the thought that her labour, 
instruction and prayers had not been in vain. 

This was the last time mother was in chapel. As I have 
already intimated, her health had been for some time declining, 
and her strength failing her. "Between one Euroclydon and 
the other," to use her own words, she had been " tossed rather 
badly of late." Her end was hastened by Bob's sudden death. 
She saw that the staff on which she leaned was broken, and 
that she had neither health nor strength enough to earn her 
own livelihood. She dreaded being dependent upon the kind- 
ness of friends, and especially upon parish charit}^ for help ; 
and she seemed to me like one who had raised a finger at the 
King of Terrors, and beckoned him to her. Death had no sting 
for her, heart and contemplation haying long since found a 
home on the other side. She was no money-lover ; and I 
believe she looked upon the little she had saved when Bob was 
getting good wages, added to what was realised by the sale of 
the furniture of the old house, as the sand in the glass— the 
measure of her own life. Some kind woman— it is kind I have 
found all women towards the preacher— on a Monday morning 
before I return from an engagement, will boil me an e^^ for 
breakfast. Seeing her watch the sand in the glass always re- 
minds me of mother. Even so did she watch the little money 
she possessed; and the consciousness gradually grew upon me 
that with the last penny from her purse she too would take her 
departure. In her latter days she suffered but little pain. She 
went to bed to die much as you may have noticed a woman 
leaving the cold wind upon the railway platform for the shelter 



2o6 RHYS LEWIS. 



of the ^raiting room, pending the arrival of the train, and 
ehowiug her face in the doorway, as if tired of the delay. Still, 
like her former self, she remained calm and collected. Her old 
Bible, loose-leaved, was always open by her side on the bed, as 
if, to pursue the metaphor, she was constantly examining her 
ticket. She died with spectacles on face. 

Old mother, mine ! I grieve to the heart that I am not a 
poet. Did I possess the divine afflatus, I would sing thoe 
sublimest elegy — one which, whatever might be its short- 
comings, would bear proof in itself that it had been wrought by 
regret in the workshop of the heart. Yet, if I am not of 
the elect of the bardic order, I am unwilling to pass on without 
an effort to pay the tribute which is my due to thy memoiy ; 
though I am compelled to do so in plain prose. Is it some- 
thing womanish, and a sign of weakness that one is over-fond 
of his mother? Then am I womanish and weak. I know not 
when I began to think of thee that thou wert the fairest, dear- 
est, best of womankind. Going back as far as I am able, I 
almost believe that this notion of thee was born into the world 
with me ; it has no beginning, I imagine, in my mind. It was 
not the fruit of observation and reason ; because, if so, it 
might have been different. I felt nearer related to thee than 
thou wast to thyself ; and I am convinced that so did'st thou 
feel towards me. Did I not know thy face years before I knew 
my own ? And were I, at this moment to look upon both our 
faces in a glass, it is thine I should first recognise. A child in 
thine arms upon the lake bank, it was thy face I knew and none 
other, when thou didst direct my eyes to the shadow in the 
water. What care, what trouble did'st thou take with me ! 
Before I could talk thou understoodest my wants and desires. 
When I was ill there was no sleep or rest for thee ; when well 
and active, thy soul was full of delight. Thou did'st teach me 
a language, thyself not knowing its grammar; and, for thy 
years of labour in doing so, receiving not a penny in payment. 
Our speech was the dear old Cymric ; thou knewest none 
other, nor believest its like to be in existence. Thou imprint- 
est its letters upon my memory while my heart was yet young 
and impressionable, so that I could not, even if I would, erase 
them in after time. Sweet is the recollection, even now, that 



J^HYS LEWIS. 207 



one of the first lessons in syllabification thou gayest me was 
*' I, and e, and s, and u." * Thyself uninstructed, thy pre- 
judices "were many and strong. Hardly would'st thou believe 
there was anything worth the mention outside the Welsh 
language, nor any religion worth the name but amongst the 
Calvinistic Methodists. Although one of the best read women 
I knew, thou could'st easily have counted all thy books 
upon thy fingers: The Bible, Charles' Lexicon, The Instructor, 
Hymnbook, Gurnal's Works, The Pilgrim's Progress, and 
" The Welshman's Candle ; " yes, and I must add two others, 
namely, Roberts of Holyhead's Almanack, and Tom of Nant's 
Works. Those were the entire contents of thy library ; but every 
book was black with thy thumb-marks, and hung down at the 
corners like the ears of Moll of Glasdwr's old dog. The 
volumes were not left long enough on their shelves to gather 
cobwebs or dust ; when the necessity arose thou would'st make 
the leisure required for their reading and study. So did'st 
thou furnish thy mind with their contents that thou could'st at 
all times qjote from memory ample portions of them to suit 
the occasion. And thou wert as much acquainted with, and at 
home in, the exalted discourses of the books of Job, Isaiah and 
Eevelations as thou wert in the fairs and fixed feasts of the 
Almanack, with its doggerel prophecies: — 

** Snow for all, 
Towards the Fall." 

Thinking of thy piety, I have wondered what pleasure thou 
could'st find in the Bard of Nant, who was not a man after 
the Methodist heart. It was one of the inconsistencies of 
human conduct, I imagine. I know thou would'st read with 
a relish those severe buffetings which the noted old satirist 
bestowed upon irreligious parsons and unjust stewards. Was 
it Tom who created in thee such a prejudice against the Church 
of England ? I have room to think thou did'st believe that the 
bard was converted before death ; certain it is I have heard 



• A rhyiuing iucuication, upon the youthful mind of the sacieJ name of 
the Saviour. The English reader will please pronounce; Ee, and eh, and 
86, and ee=Y€ssee (Jesus).— Tkanslator. 



2o8 RBYS LEWIS. 



thee, dozens of times, repeat the following lines of his compo- 
-sition : — 

'* My conscience, that captive maid 
Of wondrous grace, before me laid the startling story : 

Greatest prophet thou they say. 
That sojourns in Samaria. Come, I implore thee, 

Eecover my leprosy clean. 

No more do I prefer Abana and Pharpar, 
They're rivers impure, I ween. 
Give me of Jordan water — the Son of Man's, 'tis seen. 

Nought e'er can flood my soul's dark dross, 

Save Jesu's blood, who ou the Cross 
Died, and was so sacrificed that, through his loss [side 
We life might win. Lord, though we sin. Thy Son's pierced 

Poured out its crimson tide ; 
precious blood ! shed not for woful world in vain, &c." 

But the book thou wert most at home in, which thy mind 
revelled in, was the Bible. Never did'st thou tire of reading it, 
or of declaring its truths. Never did'st thou, for one single 
instant, doubt its inspiration, or that it was the real word of 
God. I remember, if Bob happened to drop the merest hint of 
a mistake in the translation of some verse, thy anger would be 
blown into a white heat. Partial though thou wert to the Eev. 

, wert thou not half offended with him when he said, in 

his sermon, that a few words in a certain place wanted altering 
a little '^ And did'st thou not tell Abel Hughes about him 
afterwards that thou feared'st much learning had made him 
mad ? I know that one of thy chief reasons for not being over- 
fond of "the students" was that one of them, once upon a 
time, declared his text to read better in English than in Welsh; 
and I remember thee saying, hotly, thou had'st no patience 
listening to 'prentice preachers trying to improve upon the word 
of God. It was thy ignorance made thee speak thus, but mayhap 
thou hast got credit in Heaven even for that; it was thy zeal for 
the Bible, and thy love towards every verse and word in it, that 
made thee jealous of the least attempt to tamper with it. And 
what wonder ? Was it not the Bible, as it is, that was the 
foundation of all thy consolations ? Was it not its promises aa 



RHYS LEWIS, 209 



they are, word and letter, that sustained thee in every trouble 
and affliction? Had anyone succeeded in shaking a grpin of 
thy faith in its divine inspiration, all would have been over with 
thee. Thou had'st placed thy trust so entirely in its truths, 
and loved it so absorbingly, that I cau easily believe Thomas 
Bartley when he said that, at the moment before death, he 
found thee gazing through -thy spectacles at thy well-worn 
Bible, as if unwilling to leave it, as if anxious to take it with 
thee! 

The circle of thy life was a contracted one ; thou knewest 
nothing of the world, in the real sense of the term. Thou 
had'st no notion of its size, its bustle and its wickedness. Thy 
path was narrow, and its hedges were high ; yet did'st thou 
succeed most remarkably in keeping the middle of it, without 
once, as far as I know, falling into the ditch. I am as certain 
that path led into life as that the little tributary, like the great 
broad river, leads into the sea. As thy way was, so was thy 
mind: narrow but just. Thou knewest, as well as anyone, 
that the Saviour was a Jew according to the flesh, but thou 
believed'st, notwithstanding, that he was more of a Welshman 
than anything else. And in this thou wert right ; for is not 
the faithful, of whatsoever nation, conscious that the man 
Christ Jesus is nearer related to his own race than to any 
other? And is not this clear proof of His fitness as a Saviour 
of mariy wherever found ? 

Inasmuch as what I write about thee will not be read until 
I, like thyself, have gone over to the majority, I feel I can tell 
the truth about thee, without being hindered by diffidence or 
false- modesty. Thou wert endowed with strong instincts, 
above all with an excellent memory ; and had'st thou received 
a good education in early life, I do not doubt but that thou 
would'st have been a woman of mark. Uninstructed though 
thou wert, it was seldom thou wert imposed upon. Yet wert 
thou deceived once, deceived grossly ; a fact but for which this 
hand would not now be writing a summary of thy life's 
history; for its owner would have had no existence. Thou 
wert deceived by one who ought to have been thy guide and 
protector ; who won thy heart and affections when thou wert a 
young girl— fair, methinks, also. Thou wert deceived by him 



2ro RHYS LEWIS, 



who should have been most faithful unto thee— thy hushand, 
my father. And this is not to be wondered at. He was, I 
have heard, a sturdy, handsome man. He was irreligious. 
He wished to speak with thee; but thou would'st have 
nothing to say to one who had no religion. He attended 
the means of grace ; but to what end ? At last he became a 
member of the same church with thee. He could now hold 
converse with, thee, tenderly and religiously. Detestable 
hypocrite ! He was ready of speech like thyself, and in this 
respect you were both well matched. O, how he envied the 
preacher ; and what pleasure he found in chapel ! He was a 
new man from thenceforth ; but there was a legion of devils in 
his heart. Thou gavest ear to him, yes! And ninety nine out 
of every hundred girls would have done the same. Ye were 
married, one lovely morning in May, amidst a shower of 
presents and good wishes from thy friends. And after that — 
ah, after that! God and thyself alone knew what thou 
sujffered'st, what trials thou did'st undergo ! But of whom am 
I speaking ? Of my father— my own father. Wretch ! When 
thou died'st I rejoice that I had neither seen his face nor heard 
his voice. One notable night in my history I caught one faint 
glimpse of his form — only his form — in the darkness, in 
company of another whom I hated with all my heart. 

Dear old mother! What a mercy thou should'st have found, 
while yet a loss, a religion of the best stamp. Thy husband's 
vile ways and devilish disposition left thy faith in God un- 
tarnished ! Under bruises from his cruelty— and the thought 
that thou ever wert so makes my heart bleed— thou yet could'st 
pray for him! Many a time wert thou unable to attend chapel 
because of a '* pair of black eyes." Inhuman scoundrel ! My 
flesh creeps, and my sinews tighten, when I think of all thou 
suffered'st. How fortunate for thee, Mary Lewis, that his 
wickedness developed to such a degree that he was obliged to 
flLee the country! He nearly made an end of thy life, many 
times, without thought of escaj)e, and without giving the 
authorities any idea of his apprehension. But having once 
come near taking the life of another, infinitely less worthy than 
thee, all the country demanded his arrest, and every officer of 
police burned with a desire to curb him. Thank Heaven ! thou 



RHYS LEWIS. 211 



heaid'st of him. no more ; neither loved'st thou to hear mention 
of his name. Already haye I referred to thy poverty and 
want, and all thou did'st go through consequent upon the 
imprisonment and death of Bob ; but there was not, as far as I 
can tell, either shame, or guilt, or dishonour connected with 
these. What yexation, what sorrow and what hardship thou 
euffered'st before I came into the world, when thy house was 
the den of hard-hearted, reckless poachers, who neither feared 
God nor respected man, no living creature ever knew, nor 
thou did'st ever mention but sparingly. For all thou said'st to 
me, I should not have known the hundredth part of thy trouble. 
I had grown a biggish boy before becoming acquainted 
with anything definite about thy history, save what I had 
gathered from the hints and taunts of my enemies. The only 
thing I knew for certain was that in thy cupboard was a 
skeleton of some kind ; and Bob was the first to enlighten me 
— in bed, on the night of Seth's death — after I had told him 
about the man who had stopped me near the Hall Park, and 
what he had said to me. I have many times asked myself the 
question was it possible thou could'st have had a spark of 
affection lelt for him who brought upon thee so much misery 
and shame ? love of women ! "Was it not about the last 
thing thou said'st to me before dying, *' If ever you and your 
father meet, face to face, try and forget his wickedness and, 
if you have any good to do him, do it. He has a soul to be 
saved like you and me ; and it does not much matter, now, how 
he behaved towards me; but it matters everything that he 
should be saved. If you should ever see him — and who knows 
but that you will ?— try and remember he is your father. I, 
myself, forgive him all, and endeavour to pray that He whose 
forgiveness is life everlasting do the same." 

Well did Will Bryan, in his own way, speak of thee that, 
like Job, thou didst "stick to thy colours, first class." Not 
soon would I come to an end did I relate every counsel and 
advice thou gavest me in thy last days. I do not forget there 
may be some one who will fancy that I have over-coloured thy 
virtues. The fact that thou wert my mother may make this 
possible. In this place I will chronicle only thy last words to 
me— those which were so helpful to me in after life ; — 



212 MHYS LEWIS. 



**If you are called upon to suffer in this world, do not 
complain, for it will make you think of a world in which 
there is no suffering. Do not make your home in the world, 
or dying will turn out to be a bigger job than you think it is. 
Prove all things by the word of God, yourself especially. Take 
the Bible as a weather-glass for your soul ; if you lose relish 
for reading it, you may be sure there is no fair weather waiting 
you. Pray for a godly life, but do not expect to live old, for 
fear you may die young. Try and find a religion of which no 
one can have any doubt, and which you yourself will not doubt. 
One of the poorest things on earth is a sickly religion ; it stops 
you from enjoying the things of this world, and does not help 
you to enjoy the things of the other. Get hold of a religion 
whose sheets will overlap someone else besides yourself. If you 
can be the means of saving but one soul, you will force your 
way farther into heaven alter death than if you were worth a 
hundred thousand pounds and had done nothing of the kind. 
You have no room to expect a penny piece from any of your 
relations; but you can become the richest in the country in 
grace, if you try. Abraham would never have been heard 
of hid lie bad no better property than camels. You will have 
three enemies to fight: the world, the devil and yourself, and 
you'll find yourself the hardest to conquer. In the battle, re- 
member you have the whole armour about you — prayer, 
watchfulness and the Word of God. You're sure to lose the 
day if you do not take unto yourself all three. If you get 
strength to vanquish your enemies during life, you will see only 
their backs when you come to die. I am going to leave you, 
and I trust in the Lord that I am a vessel of mercy. You 
will find in the purse in the pocket of my black gown just 
enough money to pay for burying me. If it should ever rest 
with you to do a good turn for Thomas and Barbara, don't 
forget their kindness towards your mother. I would rather 
than anything that you had a talent for preaching, and were 
inclined that way. But it can't be helped. Try and be 
religiously useful in whatsoever circle you may move— you'll 
never repent it. If I am able to see you from the other world, 
I should like to find you a deacon." 
At the time I never imagined these directions would be 



RHYS LEWIS. 213 



thy bst. When next I saw thee, Barbara Bartley had done 
all that death had left undone for thy face— closed thine eyes. 
Thy departure, according to Barbara, was as the "d'outing of 
a candle ! " Clearly Death was not unkind to thee. He left a 
cheerful smile upon thy face, a smile as of a child in it's cradle 
dreaming. The more I looked at thee, the more did'st thou 
seem to smile, as if trying to tell me thou wert happy. Thy 
unwrinkled cheeks were white as enow, but across thy nose 
ran a streak of blue — the trail of thy spectacles as thy blood 
grew cold. By thy bedside three hearts beat rapidly and 
regretfully at the thought that never more would they hear 
thy voice ; three consciences testified that thou had'st done all 
that in thee lay to purify them and place them upon the path 
of life. And though thy lips moyed not, I fancied hearing thee 
saying :— 

" I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I 
have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown 
of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give 
me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also 
that love his appearing." 

Troublous was thy life ; at many junctures wert thou really 
poor, but the great crowd that came to pay a last tribute of 
respect to thy memory showed that others besides myself saw 
something in thy character worth the emulation. Never was 
"Will Bryan so often and so severely reproved as by thee. 
And vet his testimony concerning thee on the day of thy 
funeral was, that thou wert ** a stunner of a woman." 
Thomas and Barbara Bartley have, by this time, grown old, 
but they have not yet ceased to speak of thee ; and though 
Barbara still has but " a grip of tno letters, same as Thomas." 
she has not, of Sunday afternoons, given up the habit of 
putting on thy spectacles and turning over the leaves of thy 
old Bible, as if she sought to imitate thoe. 



214 J^HYS LEWIS. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

DEGENERACY AND AN APPARITION. 

Time is a rare old physician, excelling all his rivals in a two- 
fold qualification, indispensable to his profession — the power of 
healing and deadening. In the latter he has a helper, older 
and more experienced than he, by name the Devil. When I 
found myself homeless, without a mother and worse than 
fatherless, I fancied there was not one earthly comfort left to 
me, and that none of the things of this world had any charm, 
I thought, also, that nothing would be easier than to follow my 
mother's advice to the letter. I felt not the slightest inclina- 
tion for anything but that. My course lay clear before me : a 
thoughtful, studious and religious one. All my leisure hours 
were to be spent in reading good books, particularly the Bible. 
No resort was to have any attraction for me but the chapel — 
that old chapel wherein mother and Bob spent their happiest 
hours. Looking back, I was obliged to confess that I had been 
kept in closer bondage, when under mother's care, than any 
other boy in the neighbourhood. But, I felt now, that it was 
mother who was right, and so resolved to keep within the old 
bounds; for I fancied it gave me the greatest freedom, 
and wholly suited my tastes and desires. My one great 
ambition was to become of use to religion ; and there revived 
in me my former boyish aspiration towards the ministry. I 
did not see many obstacles in my path towards that position. 
I should only be following the natural bent of my mind, 
and fulfilling the best wishes of my mother. Besides, my 
character was untarnished, and I was resolved to keep it so ; 
there should bo neither gap nor turning in my straight path. 
How my heart deceived me ! I can imagine Time ruffling his 
forehead, and the experienced assistant, of whom I spoke, 
laughing in his sleeve at these good resolutions. Was it 
possible that my nature contained some foul dirt heap of 
depravity which had never yet been stirred ? 

The *' Corner Shop," at which I was an apprentice, was one 
of the oldest establishments of the kind in the town. Abel 



RHYS LEWIS. 215 



HugTies, my master, was considered a careful, just and sharp- 
eyed man. Our line included the general drapery, but we 
pr'ncipally dealt in cloth and flannels, always of the very best 
stuflF. They were quiet times, and we were rarely busy exce})t 
ou fair days ; and it is my opinion that Abel Hughes cared not 
in the least because the fairs were not held oftener than four 
times in the year. Ours was a good and steady trade, done 
with old customers and their families who had dealt at the 
same shop time out of mind. They were, for the most part, 
country people, the majority of them being Methodists, for the 
verse had not then gone out of fashion: *'Do good unto all 
men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." 
As I have said, Abel Hughes kept the very best material; and 
he charged a reasonable profit on it. He would neither over- 
praise his goods, nor bate a halfpenny of their price; and 
should a customer not like what was offered him, he was 
advised by all means to leave it alone. I never heard Abel take 
oath that this stuff or the other was worth more than he asked 
for it. Lies were not so common in business, in those days, as 
to make it necessary a man should fore-swear himself. I do 
not think Abel spent a penny in his life upon posters ; the only 
demand he made upon the printing press being for bill- heads. 
The shop window was small, and the glass in panes about a 
square foot each, plate glass not having then come into use. 
All the window dressing wanted could easily be got through in 
an hour, and it was only about once a fortnight it was done. 
The shop was rather dark, even in broad day, and had an 
atmosphere of moleskin, cotton-cord and velveteen so thick 
that I fancied I could cut it into lengths with my scissors. 
When a customer came in, the first thing Abel did was to hand 
him a chair and begin a conversation with him. There the 
man would sit for half an hour, sometimes for an hour, or even 
longer. Generally he would buy an expensive parcel, ending 
up, for the most part, by being asked into the house for a 
"cup of tea," or a "bit of dinner." But little business was 
done after sunset; and although gas was laid on, only one 
jet was ever lit, just to show that the concern was kept going. 
There was not much book-keeping work. One long, narrow 
arrangement served as both day book and ledger; and, when a 



2i6 RBYS LEWIS. 



customer paid his account, it was only necessary to let him see 
us cross it out in order to dispense with a receipt. There was 
nothing in the method of business to prevent the belief that 
Noah had used it before the Flood, if he ever kept shop. And 
yet Abel Hughes did well and saved money. What would 
have become of him had he kept shop in these days ? In these 
days, when people beat about for customers in every possible 
direction, it does not matter what, when obtaining a customer 
and making money are, in some folk's sight, of as much 
importance as immortality, and immortality of no more 
importance than a yard of grey calico ? Then the chain 
had not been broken about the neck of greed ; traders stuck 
to their own particular business and lived amicably, with- 
out trying to undersell or cut each others' throats. They 
had no ambition to make a show, nor any overweening desire 
to cast their neighbours into the shade. If they attained a 
position free from care, got into comfortable circumstances, or 
had "a bit in an old stocking," they were satisfied. And 
there was nothing in the outward appearance of the people who 
had reached this happy stage to distinguish them from others 
who had not. That such and such a person was rich, was a 
topic for belief and not for proof. Seldom, also, was anyone 
seen making a parade of prosperity one day, and the next 
coming down with a crash, leaving his creditors to pull a long 
face at their own folly in trusting him. Still seldomer was 
anyone seen, after deceiving his neighbours and cheating them 
of their due— yea, deceiving and cheating, I say, not failing to 
live honestly, though they tried — still seldomer, I repeat, 
would these be seen afterwards holding their heads high in the 
town, filling public offices and appearing better circumstanced 
than ever before, or swaggering in the Big Seat or the pulpit. 
Such things are not so strange in these days, I am sorry to say. 
But what I wanted to know was— what would have become 
of Abel Hughes had he kept shop in these days, supposing he 
remained uncorrupted by the times ? Well, he would have 
had to go to the workhouse ; and I believe it is there he would 
go rather than conform to the avarice, the deceit and the 
trickery of the age. I know he would not bounce, I know 
he would not lie ; would not pretend to sell his goods for less 



RHYS LEWIS. 217 

than he himself had given for them; 'W'oul'i not take a customer 
by the scruff and draz him into his shop ; wouhl not persuade 
any man to buy the thing he did not want ; would not carry a 
countenance with a perpetual smirk— in a word, would not act 
the monkey. And so, in the very nature of things he would, 
Heaven knows, have had to die of want, or go into the work- 
house, as I have said. 

The Corner Shop had an assistant named Jones. I have 
noticed, by the way, that, without exception, every draper's 
shop has an assistant named Jones. I have a very vivid 
recollection of Jones, Abel Hughess assistant. I fancy seeing 
him at this moment standing behind the counter, with the tip of 
his bright scissors showing above the edge of his waistcoat- 
pocket, and a swarm of pins stuck into the left lappel of his 
coat, like mountebank's children, making all sorts of tricks and 
endeavouring to show how far they can cross the centre of 
gravity without falling. A little, limp fellow was Jones, who 
made one think that Providence had intended him either for a 
tailor or an umbrella mender. He had a great shock of hair, 
all cut to a length and lying flat upon his pate, like a pound of 
candles. His head had evidently despoiled his cheeks, which 
were utterly bare ; only, as if to indicate his sex, nature 
appeared to have gone out of her way to plant a meagre 
tutt upon his chin and permit some slight hirsute sprinkling of 
the upper lip, just like that of a stricken, grizzly old woman. 
Jones could on no account be said to wear a moustache, for his 
lip-hair was not worth the trouble of cutting, while a penny 
spent on a shave would be sheer waste of money. His blue- 
red, not over well-kept nose, was a standing libel upon its 
owner's sobriety. He had a fashion of holding his arms as if 
he found them in his way and could do much better without 
them. His feet were wide, flat and jointless and, in walking, 
turned out at an angle which made one think they wanted to 
go off in different directions. They struck the beholder as if 
they had once had a dreadful quarrel which they could never, 
despite all the coaxing of mediator Jones, make up. Summer 
and winter Jones seemed just the same— as if he were nearly 
frozen and nothing would suit him so well as to run to 
the fire to warm. I never knew him offended, no matter what 



2i8 RHYS LEWIS. 



was said to him. One thing he hated very heartily— a busy 
day. The night before a fair he could not sleep a wink. His 
favourite post was, out of everybody's sisrht, behind a pile of 
cloths, like a monument of winter, with feet turning out- 
wards, like those of a round table, arms hanging like a doll's, 
eyes opening and shutting like a cat's on the hearth, thinking 
nothing, doing nothing. That was heaven for him. Jones was 
one of those creatures whom nature favours by refusing to 
denote their age, and who, as it were, are beyond the 
boundaries of a treatment extended alike to the horns of the 
cow and the teeth of the horse. A strange customer coming 
into the shop and seeing only his back, would take oath that 
Jones was an apprentice in his second year ; if he saw but his 
profile, from behind a heap of cloth, he would have fancied him 
Abel Hughes's sister; if he saw his feet alone, he would con- 
clude him to be au old man of eighty ; if he got a full view of 
him he would be desperately puzzled whether to address him 
as " My son," or " Well, father." I said Jones always seemed 
the same ; I withdraw the words. A close observer of him, as 
I was, could perceive that the weather affected him greatly. 
Small and attenuated though he was, the cold and wet shrunk 
him up like a piece of Welsh flannel, with the difference that, 
unlike the flannel, he did not thicken in the shrinking. I have 
no doubt that his intention in thus retreating into himself 
was to evade the fall of temperature, a task in which he was 
very successful. When the weather grew warmer Jones would 
take an occasional stroll, and afterwards begin to thaw. His 
mouth being always half open, the wind entered it and 
plumped out his flesh a little. All things act and re-act. The 
weather influenced Jones; Jones had an influence upon the 
weather. In winter, the frozen look on Jones's face, his nose 
and hands blue with the cold, would make a customer's teeth 
chatter and give him the idea of adopting a warm top coat 
forthwith. It was a fact which Abel Hughes dared not deny 
that Jones could sell a larger number of oyer-coat pieces than 
anyone he ever saw. How was this to be accounted for? 
Why, because the fellow was a perfect refrigerator. 

For all that, some people would ask why Abel Hughes kept 
a man like Jones in his shop. The reason was, I should 



RHYS LEWIS. 219 



imagine, that Abel was a merciful man, who knew Jones and 
his wife must have their daily bread somehow. Abel was also 
a just man, whose honour was above question ; but the wages 
he paid Jones were very small— about a third of what assist- 
ants get in these days. And yet Jones, even Jones, had the 
impudence to marry a wife ! For all I have heard the pair lived 
happily, and were wise enough not to add to the population. 
Abel Hughes had said that one Jones was enough in the world, 
and Jones believed him in this as in all things else. Jones's 
wife was a buxom, red-cheeked woman. "When she walked 
out with her husband I will not say they looked like a cow with 
her calf, because that would be inelegant ; but I will say this, 
that Jones looked by her side like a lion's provider, or, to be 
finer still, Jones stood, relatively to his wife, in point of size, 
as the cockle-boat does to the ship. 

Why have I written so much about Jones? Because he was 
the means of stirring up and drawing forth my wickedness. 
Wo frequently hear parents advised not to let their children 
mix with mischief-making, irreverent companions. It is 
quite as important, to my mind, not let them associate with 
those who are too simple and unsuspecting. The temptation 
to wickedness is greater with these latter. If our first parents 
had not been quite so innocent, I question whether the Devil 
would have paid them so much attention. When we see the 
guilessness of childhood in a grown up man, the temptation to 
otfer him the apple becomes exeeedingly strong. I had not been 
many days in Abel Hughes's shop before seeing that I could put 
my fingers into Jones's eyes, and buy and sell him whenever 
I chose. From treading upon his corns, accidentally as it were, 
for the fun of hearing him squeak, down to persuading him to 
use a particular stuff for growing whiskers, my tricks upon 
Jones were endless, and such as would never have been 
thought of but for his simplicity. All this went on, of course, 
after time had worn away my regret, and the helper I have 
already mentioned had put a wet blanket upon my good resolu- 
tions. Jones could read, but I never saw a book in his hand, 
save at Sunday School. His head was as void of know- 
ledge as a potato. He was credulous to a remarkable degree; 
nothing, almost, being too much for him to believe. Abel 



220 RHYS LEWIS. 



Hughes's back turned, I would tell Jones the most fearful and 
wonderful things, the narrative being a mixture of what I 
had read and what I had invented. He swallowed every 
word. It did not strike me at the time that I was to blame for 
what I did, because had Jones been less gullible I should not 
have dreamt of stuffing him with fiction as if it were fact. 
Besides this, I thought that the minute and sedulous attention 
he paid to every word I said gave me a capital opportunity 
for •* exercising my gift." I should be ashamed to relate all 
the tricks I played upon him, and it would serve no useful 
purpose even if 1 did. I will say this much further: Jones was 
the means of disturbing something within me— I do not know 
what name to give it, and it never entered my head at the time 
to call it sin. It was nothing anyone had ever taught me. and 
I know my mother would not have commended it. Something 
it was, I fancied, which had always lain within me, but which 
had not been awakened until now. I used sometimes to think 
it was a kind of talent ; for I fancied hearing someone say, 
" Bravo, Rhys ! " But it was not my conscience that said so \ 
that said something else. Neither was it my mother's spirit, 
because, after I had gone to bed and shut my eyes, I fancied 
seeing her frown upon me. Had I been aware it was one 
of the enemies she had spoken of who thus commended me, 
would I have listened to him? Listen I did, anyhow; and I 
went from bad to worse. But to what purpose do I chronicle 
my evil deeds ? I humbly trust they have been erased from 
the book of record. 

I feel utterly unequal to the task of describing this period of 
my life. In a sense I was not master of myself. When 1 first 
went to Abel Hughes I was, owing to the trouble 1 had gone 
through, a serious boy, sad and with no disposition for play ; 
considerations which earned me his confidence and good opinion 
at once. He fancied, I know, that it was not necessary to keep 
an eye on me. His sister. Miss Hughes, who kept house for 
him, was a kindly, religious old maid, who thought no harm 
of anybody, into whose heart my orphaned condition gave me 
speedy entrance. When, tete a tete with her, I told her of the 
hardships I had undergone, her eyes would fill with tears, and 
it was nothing unusual for her to get up, go to the cupboard, and 



J^HYS LEWIS. 221 



biingme down an extra slice of pudding or some other delicacy. 
I saw the importance of making a fast friend of her, and com- 
pletely succeeded. Abel Hughes, in the house, spoke no more 
than was necessary either for business or instruction. His 
sister was no exception to her sex. She was very fond of a 
chat, and I, on my part, endeavoured to appear as if I took a 
special pleasure in her small talk and trifling, all the while 
that something within me kept softly saying " fiddlesticks I " 
She liked to hear all I knew of everybody and everything. My 
store of knowledge was but scanty ; but as often as it gave 
signs of exhaustion, I never hesitated seeking help from my 
imagination, which was lively enough always. I won Miss 
Hughes's favour, and that paid me well. If Abel fancied I 
had transgressed, Miss Hughes came forward to prove it was 
from ignorance I did so. If something showed itself in my 
character not quite in keeping with Abel's views, Miss Hughes 
would at once make it bright as burnished gold. Jones, 
also, was most useful in showing up my virtues. Miss Hughes 
had no patience even to speak of Jones, except as a means of 
proving my superiority over him. How did I feel ? What did 
I think of myself ? I felt myself a very different lad from what 
I was when mother was alive. I sometimes thought Miss 
Hughes did not know all about me. I could not help observing 
the difference between Miss Hughes and mother. I believe 
mother could see further through an oaken board than Miss 
Hughes could through her spectacles. Was I a bad boy? 
W^ho dared say so ? True, Abel and his sister did not know one 
half of my history. Why should they ? If mother knew all 
my affairs, even to my thoughts, Abel Hughes and his sister 
need not; a resolve at which someone said "Bravo!" But 
who ? I did not know ; but I felt, somehow, I was my own 
master, and that I could twist Miss Hughes round my fingers. 
I am surprised to think, and ashamed to remember, how free I 
made with her. I flattered her in the most shameless way. 
She asked me once how old I thought she was ? (She did not 
know I had seen the date of her birth in the family Bible, kept 
in the cupboard and that, according to the entry, she was 
then in her sixtieth year.) 

"Well," replied I, "though you look young. Miss Hughes, 
I shouldn't wonder if you were somewhere about forty." 



RHYS LEWIS, 



She laughed and said I wasn't good at guessing. 

I heard mother say Miss Hughes had never had an offer. 
Yet, for all that, I said to her, *'I know, Miss Hughes, the 
reason why you never married." 

" Well, let us hear it," said she. 

'* You didn't care to leave the master," I replied. 

"That's a very fair guess," she rejoined, giving me two- 
pence, with orders to be sure not to tell Abel. 

Was it I or Will Bryan who had changed ? 

" D'ye know what," said Will to me one day. " You are 
now like some other boy. I'll never call you *01d Hundredth' 
any more. I nearly gave you up at one time. When you 
went to old Abe I thought your hair would begin to whiten 
before you were seventeen, and expected every Sunday to hear 
you cry * Amen!' and 'Hallelujah!' in chapei, as your mother 
used to do. I don't wish to speak lightly of your mother, 
mind— far from it. 'Amen' and things like that suited her 
very well, but there was no reason why they should make an old 
man of you before you began to wear a hat. A thing of that 
sort isn't true to nature, you know. Just you watch the big 
cat and the little one; the big cat is quiet and sad-looking; 
the little cat frisks and tumbles and tries to catch her tail, just 
as if she wasn't in her senses. Or look at the mare and her 
colt ; you'll see the old mare, when not at work, stand in the 
middle of the field without budging a step or moving, except a 
little of the head when the flies are about her ears. She looks 
as miserable as if she were thinking of her end in the tan-yard, 
and you might swear she was sleeping on her legs, almost. 
But watch the colt, how he prances around, nose in air, 
tail erect, and kicks at nothing. If somebody comes along the 
road, he'll run after him, 'tother side the hedge, with a 'Hehe! 
Hehe! ' just as if he wanted to see all that was going on; for the 
world is new to the colt and the kitten, you know. It's the 
same, exactly, with old people and young. Though your mother 
used to badger me frightfully, I always thought as well of 
her as of anybody living — I'll take my oath of that. But to keep 
you, like she did, as if you were shut up in a clock-case, there 
was no sense or reason in that ; it wasn't true to nature. She 
might as well have made you wear a night cap, or breeches and 



RHYS LEWIS. 223 



leggings and a beaver hat, and sent you every Saturday to 
William the barber to be shaved, as -^aste the whole week, like 
she used to do, starching and smoothing you up for the 
Sunday. Not true to nature, Ebys," he added in English; 
*' at least that's Will Bryan's way of putting it." 

I admit, with sorrow, that I was inclined to agree with Will, 
and that we thenceforth became faster friends than ever. His 
people became my people, his affairs mine. Will was no 
^c^augeI■to the Corner Shop. Abel Hughes' visits to the A-,soci..- 
1 io n or Mo nthly Meeting took him from home for a day or two , the 
rule being that as often as he was away Jones, as a protection 
from thieves (save the mark I ) was to sleep on the premises. I 
found no difiBculty, on such occasions, in prevailing upon Miss 
Hughes to let Will spend the night with me. Will could creep 
up Miss Hughes's sleeve with the greatest ease. He would 
delight her heart with good stories or good songs, both in English 
and Welsh. An invitation to the Corner Shop pleased Will 
always; he just " stuffed himself," as he expressed it, when- 
ever Abel Hughes was from home. His great delight was to 
get a little fun out of "The Genius, "as he used to call Jones. 
Mine was but a small, narrow bed, and I remember, on one 
occasion. Miss Hughes saying to my companion : 

"Do you wish to sleep here to-night, William? I don't 
know how the three of you are to get into that bit of a bed." 

" Splendid, Miss Hughes," replied Will. " Ehys one side, I 
the other and Jones in the middle, like a tongue sanguage." 

"It's you should be in the middle, William, if you want to 
be like a tongue sanguage,"' Miss Hughes observed. 

"One for you. Miss Hughes," returned Will. "But, 
according to your plan, there would be more tongue than 
bread, you know." 

^ Miss Hughes marvelled why her brother Abel was not 
fonder of Will, whom she thought a clever, witty fellow. Abel 
never knew Will was in the habit of visiting the shop when he 
was from home. Once when Abel was at the Association in Bala 
something occurred at his house which nearly brought Will 
and me into the hands of the law. I would not mention the 
matter only it has an important bearing upon my history. I 
shall narrate the foolish occurrence in a very few words. Will 



224 RHYS LEWIS, 



and I having \rislied Miss Hughes "good night" and retired 
to our room, Will, in a spirit of mischief, insisted upon placing 
Jones on his trial for the murder of a creature which I need not 
here name. Will acted as counsel for the prosecution and 
judge. I, who was the jury, found the prisoner guilty, and he 
was duly sentenced to be hanged. Jones enjoyed the joke im- 
mensely. In the top of the door was a large nail for hanging 
clothes on. To this Will tied a cord with a noose at the end. 
Jones, who was made to stand upon a foot-stool, placed the 
noose about his neck, with a laugh. Before we could look 
around, and by a pure accident, I believe, the stool overturned. 
For some seconds we thought Jones was only pretending 
to hang, just to keep up the fun. Fortunately, however, I 
noticed that the stool lay on its side and that Jones's feet were 
a couple of inches off the floor. I never was so frightened in 
my life. In less than no time I cut the cord and Jones 
came tumbling down, in a faint. Will, equally frightened, 
trembled like a leaf. We lifted Jones upon the bed, and I can 
never describe our joy on finding that he breathed. My 
conscience was ablaze at the idea that I had been within an 
inch of taking the life of one of the most harmless creatures in 
the world. When Jones came to himself he perceived my 
alarm and grief, looked at me compassionately, and said he 
forgave us both for everything. That, however, did not calm 
my conscience and my fear. As to Will, no sooner did he 
receive Jones's solemn promise not to mention the matter to 
any living soul than he jumped into bed where, five minutes 
later, was fast asleep. 

For me there was no sleep. Jones would fall into an uneasy 
sort of slumber, lasting hours, and then wake with a start of 
terror. And so, many times. A hundred different thoughts 
crossed my mind, and I felt myself undergoing some important 
change of condition. The room was dark and the night 
seemed long. Shortly before dawn, so I took it to be, I 
suddenly lost sound of my bedfellows' breathing. Both lay as 
if dead. The silence was painfully oppressive. I saw the 
room becoming alight, but not with the light of dawn. It 
was swifter, and to my mind, if I may be permitted the 
expression, softer and more tender, like the approach of the 



RHY^ LEWIS. 225 



effulgent face of an angel. The light increased, more and 
more; and yet it did not come through the window. It seemed 
to be all within the room ; every object in which had now 
become visible. Still did the light increase, and so sweet was 
it that my eyes became restful and enjoyed the sight. Was I 
dreaming? I am not certain ; only I believe I was awake— as 
wide awake as I am at the present moment. The light reached 
a climax of a kind whereof I cannot convey on paper any idea. 
I never in my life saw anything I could fitly compare to it. 
Before me in the midst of that brilliant bat subdued glory 
I saw my mother, sitting in a chair, not one belonging to the 
room, but the old oak arm-chair she used to sit in at home. I 
did not notice the kind of dress she wore, for I looked only at 
her face, which, although it retained all its old peculiarities, 
was lovelier a thousand times than I had ever known it. I 
was not afraid, but I felt a guilty consciousness. Mother 
looked neither angry nor happy. "Come hither," she com- 
manded. I sprang out of bed and fell upon my knees before 
her and, with my cheeks between my hands, rested my head 
upon her knees, as I used to do when a child saying my 
prayers before going to bed. 

"My son," I heard her say; "I spoke to you of three 
enemies, and of the armour. But, after all the trouble I took 
with you, I fear you have no religion, and that you know 
nothing of the great things." 

I frilt she had gone away before I could speak a word to 
her, and I felt also that my forehead was cold on one of 
Abel Hughes' chairs. Springing up, I saw that the day 
was beginning to break. Was it a dream ? I know not. But 
thank God, I never forgot her words. 



226 RHYS LEWIS, 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

DAYS OF DARKNESS. 

Should some friend, more painstaking tlian the rest, have 
followed me to the end of the preceding chapter, he will, 
doubtless, laugh at me for a superstitious fellow. I cannot 
help that. I have touched but lightly upon the period when I 
left the straight path, when I lost those religious impressions 
and became careless about the knowledge and instruction I had 
received from one of the most pious of womeo. Was it because 
the remembrance of my conduct at the time was not so lively 
that I did so ? No, but because my thoughts and actions were 
too vile and hideous for recital. Forget them, indeed ! That 
is as difficult as to forgive them. God alone can do both the one 
and the other; but even He, I imagine, would find it infinitely 
more difficult to forget than to forgive, and had He not himself 
said He would forget, I might have thought the task impossible. 
Humbly and thankfully I endeavour to believe the word of the 
God of Truth ; but the wrench it must give His omniscience to 
extend me His pardon is beyond my comprehension. If this 
be madness— Great Forgetter, forget Thou this also! 

Was I a church member during the period referred to ? I 
was, sure enough ; and went up to the Lord's table regularly 
once a month. And, as far as I knew, none of the pious old 
brethren had any fear on my account ; none of them spoke to 
me with especial reference to the state either of my soul or of 
my religious belief. The memory of my own case makes me 
shudder at the thought of the spiritual condition of hundreds 
of the young in our towns, religiously brought up, like myself, 
from childhood. In order to please the good old mother at 
home, or escape the reproof of a strict employer, they attend 
service pretty regularly; they partake of the sacrament, having 
reached the necessary age; but how much more do we know 
about them? They may go for weeks at a stretch without 
looking at the Bible ; they may lead an utterly prayerless life; 
they may frequent forbidden places, filled with wantonness ; 
they may feast on yicious and rotten thoughts ; they may read 



J^HYS LEWIS. 227 



books -which, -were they printed in hell, by the light of the 
never-dying flame, could not be more damning to their souls; 
and what would we be the wiser ? Do they not attend chapel 't 
They do, and we are thankful for that. They come within 
sound of the eternal tidings of salvation to satisfy the mother, 
and who knows but that God will be merciful unto them ? Are 
we sure, though, that the means of grace are not a burden to 
them ? What interest do they take in subjects Biblical ? Do 
they not consider them ' dry ? ' O, that we could be certain 
they have lost one hour's sleep— only one— thinking of those 
things which are to determine their everlasting welfare! Thou 
shapely, handsome, tender girl— best of all workers for a 
bazaar— 0, that we might be certain thy heart doth flutter and 
palpitate as fast over thy great matter as it did over the trash 
in that penny dreadful we saw thee buy the other day ! Is 
there not some coldness, some distance that ought not to be 
kept, between officers of the church and the young men and 
maidens at least nominally under their charge, but of whom, 
in very many cases, the only thing we know is that they come 
to chapel ? I am aware the difficulty lies in bridging that 
distance without scaring their souls and driving them farther 
away, without appearing meddlesome and without setting up 
a kind of confessional. I know also, well enough, that the fact 
that I myself have been guilty of the things referred to, all the 
while that I kept my church membership, is no reason for 
thinking others guilty in the same fashion. But who were my 
companions in depravity, pray? I am bound to tell the truth : 
church members, like myself. I am pleased to think their 
numbers were small. Were I to print this history, I would 
address a few simple questions to the consciences of our 
church youths; as for example the following: — " John Jones 
— or whatever your name is— leaving God out of the question, 
would you wish your mother to know how many chapters of 
the Bible you read from one Sunday to another ? How often 
do you pray, and what sort of prayer do you use ? Have you 
any objection to her knowing the places you frequent after 
shutting shop or leaving the office? When with your com- 
panions, which do you think she would know you by— your 
voice or your words? From what she heard you say, would she 



2 28 RHYS LEWIS. 



take you to be her son ? Would you care to tell your father on 
what you spend your money, and where every penny comes 
from? What would you take to let him see the book you locked 
up in your box the other night ? If he knew as much of your 
goings-on as you yourself do, what name would he give you? 
Hypocrite ? Does the opinion you have of yourself tally with 
the opinion entertained by the "old people," your parents? 
After committing acts of which you knew neither your parents 
nor the church would have approved, have you not said to your- 
self, several times, ** It will be all right when I go home, for I 
shall get a deacon's ticket with the inscription : — 

* To the Calvinistic Methodists. 
Dear Brethren, — This is to inform you that the bearer, John 
Jones, is a member of our church of Take-everything-for- 
Granted. Grace be with yoia. Amen.* " 

To the pure all things are pure ; and it may be that he who 
has been guilty of much impurity is prone to believe that im- 
purity is more common than it really is. Anyhow, I knew one 
who regularly attended service because he dared not do other- 
wise, for fear of ofiFending his employer. He did not absent him- 
self as much as once from the Lord's Table, but had his master, 
the deacon, known his real character, he would have had him 
expelled the church sans ceremony. That one was myself. 
My mind was depraved, my heart had become hardened and 
cold, and my conversation— when the " biethren" were not by 
to hear — unbecoming, to say the least. I was not unfamiliar 
with the words of the Bible, but I used them lightly and in 
jest, to create laughter and appear witty. I believe this was 
the prime cause of my hardening of heart. I remember, at 
this minute, a saying of my mother that a light use of Bible 
words blunted the edge of their proper purpose. "Same as 
that hatchet there, look you," she said; "we have taken to 
use it for breaking coal, hammering, and everything else, 
almost, so that when we want to chop a bit of a stick there's 
no getting it to catch." The saying proved true in my case. 
Without boasting, I think I was, at that time, tolerably quick 
of apprehension and not without the ability to put my 
thoughts, decently and forcibly, into words. I do not know 



RHYS LEWIS. 229 



*vrheth.er it was this which created in me a liking for controversy ; 
but I do know I was always ready for the work, on which 
account Will Bryan dubbed me, " Stir-the-Fire-Poker." I 
was invariably disposed to take the doubtful side of a question ; 
my object being not to get at the truth but to beat my 
opponent, and to do so under disadvantages. As the habit 
grew upon me I got to think the fundamental diflFerence 
between the true and the false, the evil and the good as of no 
consequence. "With companions of no great ability or shrewd- 
ness I could give the false a more favouiable colour than they 
could the true ; and, like the fool I was, I began to admire 
myself and consider myself somebody. I went regularly to 
chapel, as I have said ; but it was seldom I found a preacher to 
please me, because there were but few, so I fancied, who could 
say anything that was " new " to me ; and I thought I could 
see holes in their reasoning and slips in their speech. By this 
time I had thrown up the practice of writing out the sermons, 
as one which was not worth the trouble. I liked Sunday 
School because it gave me an opportunity of showing ofiF my 
talents. Heart alive ! I have been thinking many times 
what a kindness it would have been had Evan the butcher, 
whom, on account of his size, Will Bryan used to call Daniel 
Lambert, taken me to the back of the chapel, given me a good 
thrashing with the stout ash stick he carried, and afterwards 
ducked me, head over ears, in the rain- tub. It would have 
done me, and many more like me, all the good in the world. I 
am describing my period of folly thus sparingly because I 
I should be ashamed for anyone to know what a lunatic I was. 
Although, from my up-bringing, fairly conversant with the 
truths, or rather with the facts of the Gospel, I was almost as 
ignorant of its spiritual blessings as a pagan. 

Such was my condition when, as I have narrated in the pre- 
vious chapter, I came near sending poor Jones to his account, 
and when I saw the apparition, if apparition it were. It is not 
of much importance what name I give the thing, whether 
dream or apparition; sure am I the occasion was a turning 
point of my life, and a blessed one, for which I have been a 
hundred times thankful. As I have already said, a swarm of 
thoughts crossed my mind that night. The words *' My son, I 



230 RHYS LEWIS. 



fear you have no religion, and tliat you know nothing of the 
great things," pierced my heart like a red hot iron. I felt 
them to he true to the letter, and became frightfully wretched 
ia consequence. Having accustomed myself to appear what I 
was not, I tried to do so once more, by looking cheerful and 
happy; but I clean failed. I lost my appetite, and Miss 
Hughes begged me to see a doctor. Many times did she say 
to me : "Rhys, I don't know what to think of you. You don't 
eat more than a bird, but I suppose I may just as well not ask 
you to take a little of that wormwood tea. What's the matter 
with you, say ? " She did not understand my malady. I made 
a desperate eflFort to shake off the feeling by mixing with my 
old companions and entering into their amusements. But that 
was only adding fuel to the fire of my conscience ; and so, on 
the excuse that I did not feel well, I left them, and thenceforth 
made it a practice of remaining within doors after shutting shop. 
To escape Miss Hughes's chatter I pretended to be absorbed 
in reading ; but it was little I knew what I read, for my mind 
wandered aimlessly about, returning ever to pore over my un- 
happiness. Everything presented itself to me in a new phase. 
Hitherto God, sin, and the other world had been mere names; 
but now they were living realities, of which the terror touched 
and penetrated every nerve of my soul, if I may be permitted 
to say so. Previously Society was but a kind of club, of 
which I was a member ; but now I began to regard the cHurch 
as a spiritual congregation, a species of the elect, of whose 
nature and constitution, sustenance and support I knew practi- 
cally nothing. Although my name was on her books, I felt there 
was a great, wide gulf between the church's life and character 
and mine. 1 meditated my condition for hours together. I 
tried deliberately to dissect it, and to put myself through a 
course of cross-examination : What is the matter with you ? 
Are your wits getting into bad repair ? What harm have you 
done that has not been done by others, and much worse ? I 
would then remember, directly, that my mother had said these 
were the Devil's questions; and I derived no comfort from them 
in consequence. Looking back, I tried to coax my memory 
to dwell upon something favourable in my past; but conscience 
travelled ahead, and raised an army for my overthrow, so that 



I^BYS LEWIS. 231 



memory lost heart and let conscience have it all her own way. 
I thought every instinct of my soul had conspired against me. 
In secret I read a great deal of the Bible ; but I felt it was of 
others that the good book spoke ; it was to others its promises 
were. For me there was no light, although the quest was 
my great aim in the reading. At all hojrs of the day and 
night, especially when I was alone, came the unpleasant 
consciousness of God's presence closing around me; only, when 
I tried to pray to it, that Presence seemed to leave me and take 
to flight. Never shall I forget one night in my bedroom, when 
a Catholic sentiment seemed to take possession of me. I had 
lain, musing sadly, until the candle had nearly burnt out, 
when a dreary, oppressive feeling of loneliness stole over me. 
God, I thought, had no compassion for me; He was angry with 
me. My companions did not understand my disposition; or, 
understanding, could not assist me. Angels, good or bad, took 
no interest in me. I was alone, so I thought, in the great, wide 
world ; my soul had grown cold within me, and there was not 
a single ray of warmth to cheer it. Suddenly I bethought me 
of mother. She, who had loved me so well, could not have 
forgotten me; and, 0, madness! I fell upon my knees and 
prayed to her. This was the straw I clutched at to save my- 
self from drowning. Needless to say it brought no blessmg. I 
speedily saw my folly. I was not ignorant of the way of 
salvation, because that had been made plain to me from my 
youth ; but I felt it was intended for others, and that I was 
outside its scope. I considered my close familiarity with the 
Gospel prevented me from seeing its inner spiritual meaning, 
and that I was fated to remain in the outer court, a martyr 
betwixt the world and the church. I endeavoured to form an 
exalted notion ot Chiist, for his sympathy with fallen human- 
ity, for his love and pity towards the sinner ; but at the same 
moment my heart would grow cold and my aflection frozen, 
while my mind placed an emphasis upon such sayings as " My 
sheep hear my voice," &c. ; and all my effort proved vain. 

I remained in this state for weeks, during which, I recollect, 
it was not the particular sins I had committed which troubled 
me most, but a feeling of general, unmitigated depravity, 
combined with a painful isolation from things spiritual and 



232 RHYS LEWIS. 



supernatural. I did not give up the eflfbrt to pray, but my 
petitions were brief and pointless. I had played the hypocrite 
so often, and dissembled for so long in prayer that I dreaded 
being communicative. At one time, I remember, my suppli- 
cations were somewhat as follow :—" Great Jesus, Son of 
God, I have dissembled much in Thy sight for many years, 
and I do not wonder Thou hpst deserted me. Thou know- 
est, for Thou knowest all things, how bad I have been. Save 
Thou and I, none knows all my doings. If Thou wilt not 
forgive me, do not, I beg Thee, tell my history to mother or 
Bob, or anybody. Although I want to. Thou art aware I do 
not know Thee, and I fear Thou art offended with me for ever. 
Let me live a little while yet. Amen." On other occasions 
they ran thus: "Jesus Christ, lest thou be worse offended 
with me, I go upon my knees again to-night; but I have 
nothing more to say to Thee than I have said hundreds of 
times already, except that I have lost my health. But thou 
knowest all, so I need not tell Thee. Amen." Although I 
dared not go to bed without first falling upon my knees, it is 
within my recollection that I was sometimes possessed by a 
haughty, defiant spirit, similar, I should imagine, to that which 
characterised the fallen angels, when my prayers — if I may 
call them such— would partake of the character of the follow- 
ing: — •' 0, Saviour of sinners ! what more can I do ? I have 
called upon Thee hundreds of times, but Thou dost not hear. 
I have read, to-night, Ihy Sermon on the Mount, and I find it 
condemns me utterly. But why did'st Thou say, ' Ask and it 
shall be given unto you; seek and ye shall find ? ' Have 1 not 
asked and sought? "Were it not for fear of sinning further 
against Thee, I might almost thiuk Thou wert not as good as 
Tny word. Thou knowest I am a bad boy. Who called Thee 
a friend of publicans and sinners ? Were they not the same 
who called Thee * a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber ? ' I, 
too, am a great sinner; still Thou art no friend of mine. Dost 
Thou make any difference between sinners ? Has Thou Thy 
favourites? What use is it my reading the Bible? It has 
nothing in it for me ; and I find no pleasure in sinning. If 
Thou art resolved not to hearken unto me, let me alone to sin. 
Thou permittest that much even unto the devil. If I err, why 



RHYS LEWIS. 233 



dost Thou not open my understanding? If Thou puttest me in 
hell, I will eternally proclaim it to all that Thou did'st reject 
me, a youth of seventeen, notwithstanding Thy saying that 
* Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.' If I have 
sinned the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost, Thou 
knowest I did so in ignorance. My heart is like a stone, and I 
cannot change it. Much as I might like to love Thee, yet I 
cannot. But Thou knowest I hate the Devil and his angels 
with a perfect hatred ; and though Thou placest me in their 
midst, I will never speak a word with one of them, never, 
never, even were he to put a rod hot iron to my lips. O ! 
have my wits gone astray ? I hope so, because Thou pitiest 
the insane. Do with me as Thou seest best. Amen ! " 

Not a ray of light coming, from either reading or prayer, I, 
to some extent, gave over the work. I no longer read the 
Bible or prayed of mornings. I could not, though I tried, 
abstain from something which approached to prayer before 
going to bed. That, I felt, was too difficult. And unto this 
day I have a somewhat similar feeling. I find it easier to 
forget God in the morning than at night. I believe I am not 
alone in this, because I remember being, more than once, in 
irreligious company, not one of whom went to bed without 
first going upon his knees, although he never thought of doing 
so when he got out in the morning. The sense of dependence 
and responsibility is stronger in the night than in the morning. 
How foolish ! We feel better able to take care of ourselves iu 
the morning than we do just before going to sleep. Dis- 
continuing the Bible I turned to works of humour. I failed, 
however, to get any fun out of them. To me the jokes were 
those of a clown made to a man who was on his death- bed. I 
fancy it must have been then I became convinced that it is 
only the true-hearted man, possessed of a considerable degree 
of piety, who can enjoy real humour, and that it is he alone 
who can fill his mouth with laughter without pouching his 
cheek with poison. Foolishly enough, I kept all my trouble 
to myself, and continued to look into myself instead of looking 
out. With one single exception I do not think that anybody 
had the slightest idea I was in such distress ; and I should not 
have suspected him either, especially since I held but little 



234 RHYS LEWIS. 



commuincation with him, had I not, one day, received from 
him the English note following : — 

Dear Ehys,— I rather think you are in want of a sachlian* 
I can lend you one. The lludw,\ of course, you can have 
anywhere you like. Glad to tell you that this chap is up to 
the knocker. — Yours truly, 

WILL BRYAN. 

I knew at once he had discovered the reason of my stay- 
ing in at night and avoiding his company. I dreaded meeting 
him, for fear of his flouts. I envied him, because his parents, 
in the matter of religion, were lukewarm and unconcerned, 
while the pains taken with me and the thorough religious 
instruction I had received, made me think my responsibility 
infinitely greater than his. Will's note increased my un- 
happiness. Every day, almost, my master, Abel Hughes, took 
me to task for not being more attentive to the customers. He 
said I was getting worse, instead of better. That made me 
hate the shop. I despised Jones no longer ; rather did I envy 
him, as having next to no soul. Little by little I sank into 
a state of indolence, duluess and melancholy. The Devil 
whispered me that religion was folly, the Bible a string of 
old wives' fables, and all my wretchedness but the result of 
indigestion. There immediately arose, however, the recol- 
lection of my mother's life, her probity, faith, rejoicing in the 
Hoi}'' Spirit, her resignation and fortitude under severest 
suffering, her boundless confidence and glorious triumph in the 
Valley of the Shadow of Death, from which the devil and all 
the infidels in the world could not move me. A great qualm of 
regret for her came over me. I knew I must be trj'ing my 
master's patience greatly, and that the only good thing he could 
see about me was my staying in of nights. Sent on an errand, I 
would forget my business and be obliged to return to ask what 
it was. Behind the counter, I was confused and awkward, and 
often made mistakes in the price of things. My conduct made 
Abel tired and testy, but I knew Miss Hughes used her best 
influence in my behalf. One day Abel called me aside and said 

* Sackcloth. t Ashes. 



RHYS LEWIS. 235 



he liad been greatly disappointed in me. lie at one time 
thought, he continued, I would turn out a good, active and 
capable lad; but he was sorry to find me getting worse and 
worse every day. ** As a matter of fact," he added, "you're 
not worth your salt." 

I felt he was speaking the truth, and so never opened my 
lips in contradiction. But his words had such .in effect upon 
me that I determined to eat no more of the bread I did not 
deseiTe. "What of self-respect there was left in me had been 
roused. My intention was to leave and trust to luck. At the 
moment, I did not care what became of me. Supper time 
arrived, but I would not sit at table. Abel had too much steel 
in his constitution to ask me twice ; and Miss Hughes, 
having got to understand her brother and I had had words, 
enjoyed the meal but little, for she loved me greatly. I 
thought there was something dry and hard about Abel that 
night at the family devotions, and I could see that his sister 
paid no attention to them. For me it was a night to be re- 
membered. I felt Abel Hughes's saying to be true that I was 
not worth my salt, and determined to clear my character before 
leaving, or else to reveal my condition. After prayers Abel, 
as usual, sat down in his arm chair and began to smoke. For 
a while he kept silent. Obstinate, firm and resolved, I eagerly 
watched my chance for a talk. After long waiting — all three, 
I fancy, feeling anything but nice in the inteiTal— Abel in 
harsh, crabbed tones asked me whether I meant to go to bed 
that night. I replied I didn't until I had told him the reason 
of my awkwardness in the shop, and my bitterness and un- 
happiness of spirit. I told him, then, my trouble; but no 
sooner had I begun than I fell to weeping copiously. In all 
my difficulties, fears and despair, never a tear had coursed my 
cheeks since the day my mother was buried ; but I had hardly 
opened my lips to tell my master my story before the dam 
broke down, and all words were drowned in a deluge of the 
heart. 

The conifoii there is in telling one's trouble ! Seldom have 
I met with a kind-hearted woman who, seeing a strong youth 
in tears, did not chime in with hiiii. Miss Hughes was kind- 
hearted. Those tears were a great blessing to me ; not only as 



236 RHYS LEWIS, 



indications that my heart was not so hind as I had imagined, 
but also as a means of enabling me to gain sufficient self- 
composiire to tell the whole story. I concealed nothing from 
Abel; no, not even the one thing I conceal here— something 
which had to do with him personally. I conceal it here in 
obedience to his express command. "Do not mention it to 
anybody else," he said; "because, if it gets to men's ears, 
although God forgave you, it might be brought up against you 
as long as you live." This he said to me on the morrow; but it 
is of the previous night I was speaking. I knew I had to deal 
with one who was every inch a man ; a fact which enabled me 
the more confidently to relate all my feelings without reserve. 
I believed he would, after hearing my story, compassionate 
me, condone my failings, and direct me into the right path. I 
fully understood there were thick walls around his heart, but 
once I gained an entrance, I thought, I should not be easily 
cast out. He listened to me attentively; but I failed to see he 
sympathised with me. Indeed he looked on cheerfully, as if 
taking a delight in ray misery. When I had finished, all he 
said was : 

•• Oh, very good! If that is the case, go on. You'll get 
better directly." 

•* Abel," said Miss Hughes; "is that all you have to say 
to him? You're hard-hearted." 

** I don't want you, Marg'ret, to tell me anything about my 
heart. I know more about it than you are ever likely to find 
out, name of goodness," returned the blunt old Calvinist. 

"But I'll tell you this much, at any rate," Miss Hughes 
retorted; " you ought to help the boy a little, and give him a 
word of advice." 

"Do you know, Marg'ret, that He who began in us the good 
work will also finish it ? It isn't well, look you, to raise one 
too speedily from the pit. And, another thing, if it is He who 
has opened the wound, He himself will find a salve for it, iu 
His own good time." 

" You should show tne lad where the salve is to be got, or 
you may just as well not be deacon— that is my opinion," 
observed Miss Hughes. 



J^HYS LEWIS. 237 

"I warrant you he knows. He is not some half heathen 
corae to the Society for the first time, like Thomas Bartley and 
others. You can't tell him anything he doesn't know already. 
When his complaint comes to a head he'll find the Doctor's 
address easy enough. The best thing for him to-night is to 
sup and go to bed," saying which the old man coolly refilled his 
pipe. 

Although it was but cold comfort I got from Abel, I felt he 
had come to regard me in a difi'erent light. What with Miss 
Hughes's promptings and those of my own stomach, I was 
absolutely compelled to take a little supper, after which I went 
to bed. But not to sleep; only to reflect upon my situation. 
By this time the desire to leave had vanished ; all my thoughts 
ending in a sigh for light upon my present condition and my 
future. How and whence the light came I mean to tell you in 
the next chapter. 



CHAPTEE XXVIII. 

MASTER AND SERVANT. 

A FULL, frank, unreserved confession of the truth, a scouring 
out of every dirty corner of the conscience, even though it were 
made before man, gives a kind of strength to the penitent. 
The unlocking of the heart's doors, and throwing them wide 
open, so that the pure fresh air may enter, brings health to the 
soul. The making another, as it were, a partaker of one's 
consciousness is to shift one end of the burden on to his 
shoulders. Why are we so anxious to hear that the condemned 
murderer has admitted his guilt? One reason is because we 
kr.ow it will make him stronger to face his dreadful doom; and 
there is also, possibly, a something else which we do not care 
to acknowledge, namely, a secret desire to share the load on 
his conscience. He who makes complete confession of his sin, 
though it were black as hell, partakes, in a measure, of the 
mans strength who tells the truth. He strikes the devil in the 
lorehead, and lifts himself in the scale of being infinitely higher 



238 RHYS LEWIS. 



than the hypocrite. The father can use the rod with some 
degree of relish across that boy's back who is a sneak; but to 
beat the bad, mischievous lad, who openly confesses his guilt, 
excites a paternal rheumatism of the shoulder-blade which put^ 
off the punishment— for ever. Why does God want to hear U3 
confess our sins? Is it because He does not know them 
already ? No, but because He wants to hear us tell the truth, 
even were that truth the ugly one of rebellion against Himself. 
There are natural sneaks, and there are spiritual; both equally 
abominable in the sight of God. Tell the truth though you 
be crucified for it, is His command. Truth in all its hard and 
hideous deformity is more acceptable unto Him than the 
simulating lie, hidden by groans and teais. To the hypocrite 
and the sanctimonious He will say: *' If it is the darkness thou 
lovest, if it is thine own caves thou likest best to live in, I will 
take care thou art provided with a congenial dwelling place, 
where never gleam of light shall enter, save that of the 
inverted lamp of thy conscience." 

Having, as it were, turned myself inside out to my master, 
although my condition was not more hopeful, nor my future 
one atom the clearer, I felt strengthened. It was as if I had 
repudiated the name hypocrite, and had summoned up sufficient 
courage to tell the naked truth about myself, so that, supposing 
I must go to perdition, I should not march thither under the 
banner of heaven. At eight o'clock the previous evening Abel 
Hughes and his sister knew next to nothing of the wickedness 
and sin of which I had been guilty. Descending the stairs on 
the morrow after a sleepless night, I reflected that the two knew 
almost as much of my personal history as I did myself; and yet 
I felt I could look them in the face more straightly and honestly 
than I had done for years. What gave me this confidence? 
For one thing, I was no longer the skulking cur I had been. 
For another, I believed both were truly religious, loved God, 
and on that account loved man, even though he happened to be 
in the gutter. Had I not been sure they were religious, would 
I have made them the full confession I did? I fancy not. 
Had I mistaken Abel Hughes's real character, into whose 
hands would he have committed me after I had admitted all 
my faults? Heaven knows. Abel Hughes! thy name is 



RHYS LEWIS. 239 



enshrined in my heart and memory ! Thy rectitude and 
austerity were as severe as Sinai's own ; but thy heart 
of hearts was saturated with the forgiving principle and 
appeasing blood of Calvary. I knew in whom I had trusted, 
though in fear. At breakfast I marvelled greatly at the 
courtesy and kindness displayed by Abel and his sister. I felt 
abashed and undeserving of such treatment. My feelings 
nearly overcame, my food nearly choked me. I could not 
help the notion that there was something God-like in the 
forgiveness and the courtesy of pious people. I fanded morn- 
ing service had an unusual unction about it; of a truth I 
enjoyed Abel's prayer as I had not for long previously done. 
At the same time I felt unhappy and in disgrace, and I made 
up my mind to ask the master to have me expelled the church 
— which I believed he would do, whether I asked him or not. 

Abel came into the shop shortly after me, and having cast his 
eye over an invoice, bade Jones check it, adding— " Jones, 
should someone inquire for me, say I'll be here directly ; but 
don't come to fetch me, because I have a bit of business on 
hand. Ehys, you'd better come and help me." 

He walked into the parlour and I followed him. He locked 
the door directly, and bade me be seated. He sat down 
opposite me. My heart beat like a newly caught bird's. I 
feared I had mistaken my master's real character after all, and 
had been foolish in confessing my every fault to him. And 
yet, I was not sorry I had done so, whatever the consequences 
might be. These and many other thoughts flashed through 
my mind in the course of a very few seconds. For a moment 
or two before breaking silence he looked me earnestly in the 
face, T making an effort honestly to return the gaze. Before 
he had said a word I fancied I saw beyond the seriousness of 
his countenance a back ground of mercy and forgiveness. I 
have thought, by the way, that some good, like most bad men, 
have two faces. Beneath the rough, frowning aspect you often 
find the tender, merciful one, or the man himself, just as you 
may discern under the hypocrite's smiles the Devil standing on 
his head. I fancied I saw the merciful man beneath the 
clouded brow of Abel Hughes, just before he began speaking 
thus:— 



f40 RHYS LEWIS. 



*' Your mother, who is to-day, I am pretty sure, in heaven 
— she and I were great friends ; and I promised her, before her 
death, I would take care of you and do my best for you. She 
had a high opinion of you— too high, I fear; but I warrant me 
she was judging you would turn out as you should have done, 
after all the care she took of you— all the religious instruction 
she gave you, and all her prayers on your behalf. When you 
were telling me your story last night, I felt very thankful that 
your mother was in her grave. I never remember meeting one 
who could possess her soul in patience under the bitterest trials 
like your mother ; and, as you know, she had an abundance of 
them. But I firmly believe if she had lived to see your de- 
basement — and she surely would have seen it, because she was 
sharper sighted than I— it would be more than even she could 
have borne. It would have broken her heart. I recollect, at 
this minute, how she used to tell me, with brightening face, 
what a help she got in forgetting all her trouble with your 
father, all her poverty and hardship, from seeing you grow up 
in the way she liked ; how you would learn chapters from the 
Bible unasked and could repeat parts of sermons while you 
were yet a mere child. When you were not within hearing, 
she would talk about you by the hour; and often did she 
ask me whether I thought you would ever make a preacher. 
Were she alive to-day she would a thousand times have 
preferred to hear that you had died of starvation by the road- 
side, than that you had fallen off to the extent you have done. 
But she was spared all this, and went to her grave believing 
her only son would not disgrace her teaching. Well, I must 
say I have been sadly deceived in you. I believe, however, 
you have made an honest confession. And, mark this— Z 
believe you. If you thought I did not, you would be doing 
yourself a great wrong. I am pretty certain you have told me 
the truth. But have you told me the whole ? " 

" Yes, the whole, I think," replied I. 

"Very well. Have you spoken to anyone besides my sister 
and myself?" 

•' Not a word to any living soul," was my answer. 

" Better still. You have made a clean breast of it, and I do 
not see that any good can come of your telling anybody else. 



RHYS LEWIS. 241 



These things might be cast in your teeth to the end of your 
days ; because it often happens that man is reproached for old 
faults by his fellows, years after God has forgiven him. If I 
had not myself known something, from experience, of the 
depravity of heart of fallen humanity, possibly I might have 
looked diflferently upon your confession. But I do know some- 
thing of the struggle against temptation and being once and 
again overcome, and I trust I know something also of coming 
out of the fight victorious. Perhaps there may be those who'll 
eay my duty is to turn you out of doors, proclaim your faults to 
the world and expel you from the church ; and they might think 
me merciful for not doing more. But I shall do neither the one 
thing nor the other. Why should I ? I am a great sinner my- 
self. I reflected last night, after you had gone to bed, that if 
we were each to make full and complete confession of our 
faults, what strangers we should become to one another! I 
thought, also, how small is the real difference between the best 
and the worst of us. Tell me honestly, now — but, for that 
matter, I know you will not do otherwise— have you declared 
eternal war against the devil and the depravity of your own 
heart? Are you resolved, with the help of God, either to 
conquer or die in the strife ? " 

•* I have nothing to conceal," replid I. "I hate myself, but 
I have no one in my own stead to dote upon. I hate my 
actions and my evil habits of old, but I find no pleasure in any 
other. The truth is, I have no love for myself or for anything 
outside myself, which is the same, I fear, as to say I hate 
everything." 

"So," said Abel. "It would be vain for me to give you 
those counsels which are given every day to all men— those 
you have heard hundreds of times from the pulpit and iu the 
Society, and which have, to a great extent, become meaning- 
less by this time, both to those who give and those who are 
given them. But did you ever before feel as you have felt for 
the last few weeks ? Try and call to mind, now." 

"No, for certain," I replied. 

*' Good. Do you remember a time when you were tolerably 
contented in spirit, when you enjoyed the semce in chape 



242 JiHYS LEWIS. 



and were able to go to bed at night undisturbed by fears and 
the admonitions of conscience ? " 

"I do very well. Such was the case with me for many 
years," I answered. 

'• Now," said Abel, " can you tell me what constituted your 
happiness at that time ? "Was it your own purity ; or was it 
because you had never given yourself a thought? Was it 
because you knew God, because you had caught a glimpse 
of His divine majesty, His stainless sanctity. His hate of 
every appearance of evil ? Was it because you had felt His 
infinite love in giving His Son to death for us, had rested your 
soul upon Christ's atonement and sacrifice, and enjoyed the 
peace which is in the Gospel in consequence? Was it that 
which made you happy ? " 

••I do not know," replied I. 

"Try and think. We will wait a minute or two, for you 
may consider," said Abel. 

•'I fancy," I presently observed, "that my former happiness 
consisted in an utter absence of a right knowledge of myself, 
together with the fact that I had not realised a single great 
truth concerning God and his ordinances. In other words, 
now I come to think of it, I believe it was my ignorance of 
myself and of God that made up my happiness." 

" Just 80," remarked Abel. " But one question more. You 
recollect a time, do you not, before you had committed those 
sins to which you referred last night? Good. When you began 
committing them, I know it was the least heinous of them— if 
it is right I should say so — you committed first, was it not ? 
Now in committing the first, how did you feel ? Did you feel 
as if you were travelling some new road, or as if you were 
merely on an old one which had deteriorated ? Did you feel 
you had made a * right about face,' as these volunteers say ? " 

•* No, I think not," 1 replied. *' I believe I was always ia 
the same road, only I found it becoming worse as I walked." 

♦' I guessed as much," said Abel. *' Now, taking your own 
account, do you not see there is greater hope of your salvation 
to-day than ever there was ? Even during your best period 
you never seem to have realised your condition as a sinner, 
nor to have had any just comprehension of that God whom, in 



J^HYS LEWIS. 243 



eeeminpr, you woisliipped. Your ignorance was your castle of 
bliss. You were on the way to destruction from your birth. But 
now, here is God in His mercy raising a storm about you and 
casting a tree athwart your path. You must return to the 
cross-road and take an entirely new turning. And, observe — 
tfih happens in the life of every man xuho is saved." 

'•How ami to do it ? I fear God will not hearken unto 
me," I said. 

"Have you tried Him? Have you told Him tbe wbole story 
of the old way, and asked him to direct you into the new ? " 
asked Abel. 

" I have asked Him hundreds of times for His guidance, but 
I have never told Him all my history. To what purpose? God 
knows it better than I do myself," replied I. 

" It is there you are mistaken," returned Abel. "According 
to your" reasoning there would be no necessity for prayer at all, 
because He knows the heart's deepest and most secret thoughts 
and desires. But remember, He will not hear your prayer, or 
mine either, while we keep back anything we know to be faulty 
in us, and do not tell it to Him— not publicly, but in the 
privacy of our own room, I mean. You may be certain that 
the publican had gone over all the particulars before entering 
the temple. I do not believe Christ would have answered the 
prayer of the thief in such few words but that He was pinched 
for time. There never was any good of doing things by halves. 
Open out your heart before Him, and make a full and minute 
confession of your faults. You need not fear you will bore 
Him with tediousness to whom a thousand years are as one 
day. Although the sins are an abomination unto Him, He is 
not displeased to hear the sinner confess them, if in his heart 
he be truly repentant, and show a sincere desire for forgive- 
ness and a complete escape from their influence." 

Abel paused a minute or so at this point, as if anxious to 
ascertain whether his words had any effect upon me. I felt 
profoundly all that had been said, but could find no other 
words for reply than : "I thank you from my heart, master; 
but my sins are great and manifold." 

" They are," he rejoined, " greater and more numerous by 
far than you have yet imagined ; and so are mine. We both 



244 RHYS LEWIS. 



— we all, for that matter— are in the same unlucky boat. You, 
I know, have read more than the generality of boys hereabouts, 
and so I don't mind telling you a bit of my experience, since it 
is relating experiences we are. I never told this experience in 
the Society, and if you live to my age, you too will have 
experiences which you will never divulge either to the 
church or your greatest friend, and will have feelings which 
you cannot convey in words, even to yourself. When I was a 
youth a little older than you are, the incarnation of the Son of 
God appeared to me to be unreasonable, improbable and 
beyond belief. I had not your religious rearing ; but I received 
a little day school, and was fond of reading and study. For all 
that, I wallowed in the vilest sin. I used, occasionally, to go 
and hear the Gospel, and took some sort of interest in the 
preacher. Like Zacchseus of old I would climb to the top of a 
tree for a good view of preacher and congregation; but, 
contrary to him. Salvation did not come to my house. In 
course of time there happened that great religious revival of 
which your mother was ever and always talking, when I and 
hundreds of others were convinced of our sins. In the fright- 
ful sight of my guilt then given me I perceived the reason for 
the incarnation. And, if you have noticed, you have never 
found one who, having been awakened to the enormity of his 
ein, has doubted any longer the coming of Christ in the flesh. 
It is those who have loose notions of sin who are the exceptions. 
Call to mind the old religionists— those of the great revival, 
your mother called them. Did you ever see their like for the 
intensity of their love towards Jesus, a love that annihilated 
every obstacle in its way ? What was the reason for this ? 
They were people who had had a vision of sin such as is not 
often got, I fear, in these days. But this is what I was saying : 
If you have seen your condition in its true light— and I believe 
that to some extent you have— do you not begin to perceive the 
reason for the incarnation ? Do you not see there is something 
in your despair and in the depth of your wretchedness which 
^ows that His errand to the world has not been in vain? 
Solomon, if you remember, in thinking of his insignificance 
and misery, almost doubted whether God dwelt with man on 
earth. But, for my part, I do not flee there is anything in man 



RHYS LEWIS. 245 



save his terrible wretchedness, which could have moved the 
bowels of God's infinite compassion, nor any object grand and 
deserving enough to call for His appearance in the flesh but 
that. 1 am now an old man, and an old sinner, and am 
prouder of the name than if I were an angel, because I feel I 
am an item, an atom, in that great scheme whereby God was, 
as it were, made to come out of Himself. It is here, my son, 
that your salvation lies, if you are ever to find any. To me the 
existence, the sin and the misery of man are inexplicable, save 
in the glow of that accursed death upon the Cross. In the dark- 
ness prevailing from the sixth until the ninth hour alone do I see 
what of light and hope it is possible for man in his condition to 
find. It is the old story, you see, that I, too, have to tell ; but 
were it not for this same old story the country would not have 
asylums enough to hold its madmen. And there is no other 
story worth repeating, in your case— no other name under 
heaven wherein it will pay you to confide. Have you ever 
wondered at the silence of God ? If you have not, you will, 
assuredly, have some feeling of the kind, some day. When I 
was a young man the thought of it used to oppress me greatly. 
I often walked the night alone, especially if the heavens were 
clear. The appearance of moon and stars made me melancholy. 
How far, how old and how silent they were, methought ! They 
were fixed now in the firmament just as they were when my 
father, grandfather and great-grandfather gazed up at them. 
I marvelled to think how many generations of men, now in the 
dust, had looked at them, as I did, in the same spot which they 
had occupied in the time of the Druids, the time of Paul, the 
time of Moses, Abraham, Noah and Adam. And yet how 
silent, ever! How vast the experience they must have 
gathered ! And yet they never told me anything to calm my 
restless mind ! In vain did I ask what was beyond them ; they 
but twinkled, voicelessly, down upon me, creating within me 
uneasiness and doubt and thoughts unspeakable even unto 
myself. Many times did I look up, and for long, expecting 
some extraordinary manifestation, but in vain. All went on 
as usual. And did you and I go out to-night after dark we 
should find everything just the same as when Isaac meditated 
in the field. Well, thoughts like these made me gloomy. 



246 RHYS LEWIS. 

There was eometbing in the depth of my soul which * asked a 
sign/ I recalled the story of the pillar of cloud by day and 
the pillar of fire by night, and fancied there was some sense in 
that; something which man could see and be certain about. I 
remembered, also, Joshua in the Valley of Gibeon commanding, 
in God's name, the sun to stand still, and it did so. There was 
something noble in that ; something to bring peace to the un- 
easy mind of man. And then I would ask myself why had we 
been deprived of all such signs for centuries, why had ages 
been passed in most painful silence ? I felt, somehow, as if 
God had gone from home, and left everything and every place 
empty and mute. At times I had such a strange, overwhelm- 
ing desire to see God marching to the front from the distances 
to which He had retired, that I would have willingly been 
witness to another general Deluge, whatever my fate therein 
might be ! What gave ray mind unrest ? I believe it was the 
original aspirations implanted in the soul after a knowledge of 
God's purpose and intent with regard to man and his future 
that had been seriously disturbed. But this is what I was 
leading up to : I never had a moment's peace and quiet for my 
mind until I got to believe, with all my heart, the great fact of 
the Lord's appearance in the flesh. Though I knew the story 
already, I had not believed it, believed it with an object, uutil 
I came to feel the depth of my depravity, and was made 
conscious of the elements of wretchedness, evergrowing and 
immeasurable, within my own being. Beyond the belief of 
Christ's coming in the flesh, there is but the silence of the 
grave for me, everywhere; there is no clear answer to one 
single question of my perturbed soul. But the life, teaching, 
death, atonement and resurrection of our Saviour defy the soul 
to put a question which cannot be satisfactorily answered. 

"Now, my son, I will not ask you whether you know the 
story ; I know you do, as well as I. But do you believe it, 
wholly, unhesitatingly and for ever ? I do not expect from you 
a decisive answer. For my own part, I do not attach much 
weight to the instant belief which some people talk of. My 
own experience teaches me that man does not gain it except by 
hard study, deep and constant meditation, and prayer without 
ceasing. My great desire is to set you on the way to begin the 



RHYS LEWIS. 247 

\rork of seriously seeking the help of the Spirit to guide you 
aright. And if you but apply yourself assiduously, the day 
will surely come when you will be thankful for your present 
misery ; when the eye of your mind will have been opened to 
see His love who remembered us in our low estate. Is there 
anything you would like to ask me ? " 

" I feel, sir," I replied, ** that there are a great many things 
I would like to ask you; but I cannot give them form. I feel 
some great want, but I cannot give it words, and I am not sure 
I know its nature. I had thought there never was another 
who had felt as I did, but you have given much of the history 
of my own heart. I am conscious of a void which requires 
filling, and that that which would fill it is far removed from 
me. How am I to satisfy my want and find the peace which 
you have found ? " 

" Man's heart is by nature empty," replied Abel, ** but once 
awakened, it constantly aspires. There is a danger, however — 
especially to him who has read and studied a little— there is a 
danger, I say, of his living upon the dreams of his heart, and 
taking those for religion. Guard yourself carefully against 
it. In many instances this makes the religion of the sceptic; 
because, as a rule, it is not amongst the illiterate, ignorant 
classes you will find a sceptic, but amongst the studious and 
well-read. How is this ? Well, this is how I see it. Eeading 
and study awaken the heart to its wants, cause it to question 
itself; and once the questioning begins, there is plenty of work 
to do. The sceptic keeps up the process of self-inquiry without 
getting an answer to one of his great questions. At first the 
questions are his great things ; but in the end his great thing 
becomes his inability to answer. Little by little he satisfies 
himself with, sometimes boasts of, bis want of knowledge. It 
being his own heart and understanding he appeals to, he is 
obliged to sum up his belief in the two words— i)o?i'^ know. I 
make no pretence to being a philosopher, but I am certain I 
have a restless heart and soul that are asking questions ever. 
Well, if I couldn't reach higher ground and a better creed than 
that contained in the 'Don't know,' I should be the most 
wretched creature living. Better I were an elephant, or an 
ass, or a monkey, than a man. Were I certain, in my own 



248 RHYS LEWIS. 



mind, that the utmost I could attain to by investigation and 
study is 'Don't know,' 1 should take my hat off to every 
donkey I met, and call him Blessed ! But, thank Clod ! we 
have a revelation. To me two facts are plain. One is that 
man's heart, once awakened, keeps questioning ceaselessly ; 
the other, that the experience of the cleverest men the world 
ever saw is that the heart's only answer to its own questions is, 
* Don't know.' Now, if the Bible answers the profoundest and 
most abstruse questions of my heart — if it can explain my 
existence, my wretchedness and my future— if it can direct me 
to One able to allay the uneasiness of my soul — I shall believe 
that Book has emanated from God. If it were not so, why not 
show me its equal, nay its superior ? I challenge any man, 
any nation, aye, the pick of all the nations under heaven, to 
produce anything like it that is not indebted to the Bible itself 
for both thought and matter. 

" But where am I wandering to, pray ? What I was talking 
of was the danger of your living on the dreams of your heart 
and fancying that to be religion. Some people linger within 
themselves in melancholy, sentimental study, their high places 
being groans and tears. That is not religion. Keligion is 
something more practical than that. It is a constant going out 
of yourself, is religion. * The kingdom of God within you,* 
that's religion, sure enough ; but its ' goings forth,' like its 
Author, ' have been from of old, from everlasting.' You will 
get more good for your soul in one day from looking to Christ 
and endeavoaring to do his commandments, than from a hun- 
dred years of looking into yourself. Do you know it is when 
you lose yourself in the desire to do the ordinary duties of life 
as a service to God that you become most religious ? Behind 
the counter, serving a customer conscientiously and to the best 
of your ability, do you know you are pleasing God as well as 
when you are upon your knees in the privacy of your own 
apartment? Amidst all our stupidity, ignorance and darkness 
there appear some things of which we can be certain. Tou are 
sure in your mind that it is right to tell the truth ; tell the 
truth, then, under every circumstance. You are sure that to 
live honestly is the proper thing ; live, therefore, so honestly 
that conscience cannot raise a finger at you. Remember that 
whatever borders on shabbiness and meanness is detestable in 



RHYS LEWIS. 249 



the sight of God ; and that the more of the gentleman there is 
in your conduct all the higher in the world will you stand in His 
esteem. Strive to keep your heart as pure as God's own. You 
will discover directly— indeed I shall believe you have found it 
out already — that you can do nothing as you ought to do it, 
without His help and guidance. Every attempt of yours to 
lead a Godly life will awaken and set in motion some conflict- 
ing tendency of your nature, which will, I hope, bring you 
to the only One who can help you to overcome them all. Try 
and believe that God sympathises deeply with you in your 
degradation, darkness and impotence; otherwise He would not 
have sent His Son to die for you. But, believe also, that He 
has no sympathy with you when you give in to your weak- 
nesses. It is only when you are fighting energetically against 
sin that His strength and sympathy will go forth unto you. 
At the beginning of your religious career — and I believe you 
are really beginning it only now — I would deeply impress upon 
you that religion is not a matter of shilly-shally. You know 
there are several in church with us, like William the Coal, who 
frequently fall into evil, and afterwards ere deeply aflfected by 
the sermon, cry in the Society, and lay the blame on Satan for 
their sins, as I have heard that that mischievous lad, "Will 
Bryan, taunts our friend with doing. They believe the feeling 
under sermon and the crying in the Society are real religion. 
I do not know what to think of them. I hope God has some 
bye-law for their salvation. No, my son, it is not after the 
fall, religion's bitterest tears are shed ; it is in the struggle, in 
the fight, that the loud cry and the tears come. Perhaps I have 
spoken too much. You have, as you know, sinned against 
me ; but I forgive you from the bottom of my heart, believing 
you are sorry for your transgression. If I, encompassed by 
weakness, can do this, how much more will He who is infinite 
in pity blot out your untruth, if you are truly repentant? 
Now, go back to your work, like a man, and remember that 
from this time forth I shall expect you to conduct the family 
worship alternately with myself." 

Abel unlocked the door and walked out, leaving me as if in a 
dream, although not in so dark a dream as some I had been in 
previously. I trembled at Abel's last words. Thenceforth, 
however, I looked upon him not as a master, but as a father. 



250 RHYS LEWIS, 



CHAPTEE XXIX. 

THE CLOCK- cleaner's ADVICE. 

I GOT light and blessing from that conversation -with Abel 
Hughes in the parlour. I saw it was possible that one could 
be religiously brought up from childhood, could take an 
interest in chapel matters, derive some enjoyment from the 
ordinances of the Gospel, aye, be of service thereto, and yet 
not have been aroused to the great questions of eternal life. 
Furthermore, I understood from Abel's words— and up to now 
I have had no reason to think him mistaken — that there was a 
particular juncture in the life of every believer, whether 
religiously brought up or not, when the spiritual light flashed 
upon his mind, causing him to see himself and all around him 
in an entirely new aspect. I understood also, and afterwards 
learned the fact by experience, that the more a man con- 
templates himself, and the deeper he penetrates the secrets of 
his own heart, the more sad and despairing does he become, the 
less likely to be of use either to himself or anybody else ; and 
furthermore that the only medicine for one really awakened to 
his condition, one who has found that the depths of his soul 
contain but darkness and terror, is the fixing of his contempla- 
tions upon the glorious Person, spotless life and atoning death 
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I recollect a remark of 
Abel's, made a long while after our talk in the parlour. 

"Were you troubled with biliousness," he said, "is it by 
staying in your bedroom, looking at your tongue in the glass 
and wondering at its nasty fur coating, that you'd expect to 
get well ? Not a bit of it. I know you'd have sense enough to 
take to your old walks again, and if that did not work a cure, 
you would call your companions together for a climb to the top 
of Moel Fammau, to get a view of the far-famed Vale of Clwyd. 
And I'll warrant you the fresh air of old Moel would shift 
every grain of bile from your stomach, and that you would not 
turn up your nose at your dinner on your return. It's the same 
thing exactly with religion. I have told you many times that 
you'll never do any good by looking too much into yourself. 



I^HYS LEWIS. 251 



Go out into tlie highways and fields of the Gospel. Muster 
your friends for a climb to the top of that hill on which the 
gentle Lamb suflfered under nails of steel, and you shall find 
yourself healthier, purer and lighter spirited. Do you know 
what P There is a worid of meaning in those words of old Dr. 
Johnson: 'Gentlemen, let's take a walk down Fleet Street.' 
Johnson had many memories full of a revivifying charm con- 
nected with Fleet Street ; so, when wearied of himself or the 
company, he would get up and say, ' Gentlemen, let's take a 
walk down Fleet Street.' The old Doctor's words have been as 
good as a verse for me, hundreds of times. The Gospel has its 
Fleet Street for the believer, fascinating and full of bitter- 
sweet recollections. Scores of times, when tired of the shop, 
cloyed with grey calico a groat a yard, brown hoUand at ten- 
pence, and trifles like that, have I left everything and taken, 
with your mother or someone else, ' a walk down Fleet 
Street.' In going to chapel old Johnson's saying was as often 
as any in my mind, ' Gentlemen, let's take a walk down Fleet 
Street.' " 

I endeavoured to act upon my master's advice, and succeeded 
to such a degree that I soon got to look something better than 
a roosting hen, with head under wing. I set to work to forget 
myself, to think more of Christ and his words, and to look at 
the bright side of the Gospel. I wondered I had not found out, 
before Abel told me, that herein lay the secret of my mother's 
happiness. 

"Think of your mother," he said. *' Do you know of any- 
one who met with so much trouble? And, for all that, did you 
ever see anyone enjoying so much real happiness ? Where did 
her happiness come from ? Was it from looking within ? I 
don't believe it a bit. She had learned to look at One worth 
the looking on. It always struck me that the greater her 
trouble the greater her happiness. Her poverty only made her 
think of the riches that are in Christ, while the ill-treatment 
she received at the hands of your inhuman father but made her 
revel in the Saviour's gentleness and love. Don't be angry 
with me, but the truth is, when I used to hear that your 
mother was in trouble, I would laugh and say, * Well, that's 
another feast for Mary Lewis.' Do you know what ? You 



252 RHYS LEWIS. 



ought to be a brave lad, for you had a noble mother. I 
never saw one like her who could subsist so entirely upon the 
promises of her religion. In a manner of speaking, she had no 
business to die when she did. She was neither old nor 
diseased. ' Abel,' she said to me, when she went to live at 
Thomas Bartley's, ' there is no reason, is there, why one who 
has everything should live upon the parish ? I'll never take a 
penny from the parish, that's the truth.' No more did she, as 
you know. I have thought a great deal about her. When she 
saw she would be obliged shortly to depend upon parish relief, 
it affected her as the husks did the prodigal son. I fancied 
hearing her say, * Hold on, relieving officer I That kind of 
food is an insult to my family ; I will arise and go to my 
Father.' I sometimes think that hers was a sort of insistence 
upon death, in order to prove the truth of tho promise that the 
righteous shall not be forsaken. Thomas Bartley must have 
been of tho same opinion, although Thomas, I know, did not 
understand the philosophy of tho thiug. I heard him say he 
* craved like a cripple ' for her not to die, but that die sho 
would. I do not praise your mother for this. But there is 
something, you see, in religion of the best sort which makes 
one dreadfully independent of this world and its things. Try 
and get a religion like your mother's." 

I have already said it was but little Abel spoke to me during 
the first years I was with him ; no more than was absolutely 
necessary between master and servant. But after I had made 
a clean breast of it, his conduct entirely changed. His kind- 
ness and tenderness were boundless. On every opportunity he 
spoke freely and afiTably. After shutting shop ho was con- 
stantly bringing some subject or other under my notice, and 
after examining me thereon, he would deliver his mind fully 
and lucidly. He would mention the books he had read, and 
point out their excellences and their defects. He spoke of the 
old preachers, described their appearance, dress and mode of 
delivery. He would repeat portions of their sermons in a 
manner which made me sometimes regret I had not been 
allowed to come into the world earlier. Abel appeared as if 
determined to break down every barrier, annihilate every 
distance between him and me. Since a lad I had entertained 



RHYS LEWIS. 253 



the greatest respect for him, and had regarded him as a model 
deacon; so that his condecension in thus noticing me, the 
trouble he took to teach me and to guide me in the paths of 
knowledge and religion, together with his frank and unostenta- 
tious generosity, made me love him, and feel wholly happy in 
his household. Miss Hughes rejoiced at my having been the 
means of making her brother so communicative and sociable ; 
♦' instead of being," as she expressed it, " with his nose in his 
book, or his head in the chimney all day long." In a word, 
the old man had, in his latter days, found a son, and this gave 
him both the tongue and the heart of a father. Happiness 
smiled upon me once more. I took fresh delight, and a deeper 
and truer than ever, in the things of religion and the 
ordinances of the Gospel. 

But I felt some uneasiness at the thought that I had not 
dealt decently by my old companion in mischief and iniquity, 
Will Bryan. I had never told him definitely why I shunned 
his company ; and I had a notion that a thing of that sort was 
not gentlemanly, or what his friendship really dosorvod. I 
determined, therefore, to avail myself of the first opportunity I 
got to notify him that my mind had undergone a complete 
change, and that I wished to try, through the help of God, to 
become a good boy. From the bottom of my heart came the 
whisper, *' Can I possibly win Will over to the same resolve ? " 
I say it honestly, there was nothing on earth I would have 
desired better than to be able to persuade Will to leave his old 
ways; for I could not conceal from myself the fact that, 
although a church member of some sort, he was distinctly an 
ungodly youth. My soul clave unto him as Jonathan's did to 
David, and the idea of breaking my connection with him was a 
terribly painful one. He had a large heart and a generous, 
and I could not forget his fidelity and kindness to me in 
days gone by. As I stated at the beginning of this history, 
when we were lads there was a great difference of station 
between us. I was poor and needy. Will in the midst of 
plenty ; although never, even by a look, did he show himself 
conscious of the difference. Scores of times did he keep the 
wolf from my door ; and, knowing my proud spirit, did so with 
an unstudied delicacy which left my feelings unhurt. At 



rS4 RHYS LEWIS, 



school I was weak and fragile ; Will strong and hardy, the 
strength being always at my service to save me from wrong. 
Was it gentlemanly to forget all this ? Was it right to break 
off the acquaintance? I was certain that after what 1 had lately 
gone through I could not hold coninmnication with him with- 
out injury to my eternal welfare. Unable to bear the idea 
that Will should think meanly of me, 1 resolved to reveal my- 
self to him at the first opportunity. All the same, I feared the 
encounter, because I knew him to be the stronger-minded. 
Truth to tell, he was chock full of natural talent ; a fact which 
made me commiserate his absence from the right path. What, 
1 uneasily reflected, if he took to jeer me? Well, there was 
nothing for it but to take the roasting quietly. I was anxious 
that our meeting should appear wholly accidental. And so it 
actually happened, for I came across him quite unexpectedly. 
His face wore its usual cheerfulness, and I saw that my conduct 
towards him had not made the slightest inroad upon his frank 
gocd nature. 

"Holloa! old millenium !" he cried, extending his hand. 
"How be, these centuries? I was just beginning to think 
j^ou'd gone to heaven, only I knew you wouldn't leave without 
saying good bye to your old chum. Honour bright, now; — is 
it a fact that you've had a reformation, visitation, or whatever 
they call it. Know what? I too am quite ready to go to 
heaven or list a soldier — don't care which ; I'm clean tired of 
home. There's been a deuce of a row yonder this week, for 
nothing at all, or nearly ; and I'm not going to put up with 
much more humbug." 

"What was the bother about, Will?" I asked, taking up 
step with him. 

You know that old eight day clock in the kitchen ?" he said. 
"It had got to lose a bit lately— a fault by the way," he added 
(in English, for whose accuracy or inaccuracy I do not hold 
myself responsible), " not ^entirely unknown amongst other 
orders of superior creatures. I always fancied," he went on, 
in Welsh, "I could mend it if I only had the time; for, though 
I had never tried my hand at clock cleaning, still, I ain't 
stupid at such things, as you know. Well, the old people went 
to Wrexham fair, with [relapsing into English again] strict in- 



RHYS LEWIS. 255 



junctions that Will in the meantime should diligently apply 
himself to weighing and wrapping sugar, which occupation the 
said Will considered unworthy of his admitted abilities ; and 
the said Will, following his more congenial inclination, betook 
himself to clock- cleaning, thinking that thereby he did not 
waste valuable time by putting the time-keeper to rights. But 
[in Welsh] it was a bigger job than I had bargained for, my 
boy. In pulling the old arrangement to pieces, I had to make 
notes of where each piece came from, and what it belonged to. 
After cleaning the lot, and rubbing a little butter into every 
wheel, screw and bar— there was no oil in the house— it had 
got far into the afternoon, notwithstanding I had gone without 
my dinner, so as not to lose a minute. It was high time new to 
begin putting the pieces together if I wanted to finish before the 
gaffer came home. So far— good. But when I went to set my old 
Eight-Day to rights, and to consult my notes— you never saw 
such a mess. Exactly like Parson Brown, I couldn't make 
out what I had written. But I learnt this much— that a man 
who takes to cleaning clocks, like the man who goes to preach, 
should be able to do the job without notes. You can't imagine 
the fix I was in. You must remember that I was labouring 
under great disadvantages, all the tools I had being a knife and 
a shoemaker's awl. I was sweating like a pig for fear old 
Pilgrim's Progress should return from the fair before I got that 
precious article together. However, I worked like a nigger, 
and slapped up the affair some fashion. But when it was all 
over, I found myself with a wheel to spare which I didn't 
know in the blessed world what to do with ; so I put it in my 
pocked. Here it is." 

Will showed the wheel. 

•' Surely to goodness, I put old Eight back in his place, and 
wound him up ; but first thing my nabs did was to strike, and 
strike, and keep on striking until the weights got to the bottom, 
and he could strike no longer. It struck thousands upon thou- 
sands did that blessed bell, and the sound of it got into my head 
and made me quite stupid. It made such a row that I feared the 
neighbours would think the Hall owner's daughter was going 
to get married. After striking all it could, the next thing my 
beautiful must do was to stand stock still. As long as I kept 



256 J^HYS LEWIS. 



shoving the pend'lum it went on pretty well, but directly I 
stopped shoving he stopped going. To tell you the truth, I 
laughed till I was ready to split. I could not have stopped ii 
someone was to kill me. So here endeth a true account of the 
clock cleaning. But wait a bit. Presently, my boy, our 
ancient pilgrims came home, and the first thing they did, of 
course, was to go and look at the time. I had tried to guess it 
as near as I could, and placed the hands where they should be, 
so I thought. But the old woman spotted the clock to be on stop. 

* What's the matter with this here clock, William ?' she asked. 

* Has it stopped ?' said I. * Looks like it, these two hours,' 
she replied, jogging the pend'lum. I was nearly bursting with 
laughter. * What's-the-matter-with-the-old-thing ?' said the 
dame fiercely, giving it a shake such as you've seen people give 
fi drunken man who has fallen asleep by the road side. In 
order to get an excuse for laughing, I said, ' I rather fancy, 
mother, he must have ruptured himself, like the Hall owner's 
hunter, and that we must either open or shoot him.' But the 
servant girl comes up at this point and lets on that I've been 
engaged all day cleaning old Eight. You never heard such a 
ftustration I Mother bust up ; the guv'nor went mad. I half 
believe the old man would like to have given me a licking, only 
he knew ho couldn't do it. This child subsided into his boots. 
Next day they sent in great haste for Mr. Spruce, the watch- 
maker, to set old Eight a-going. But I knew he couldn't, for I 
had one of the wheels in my pocket. So did Will have revenge. 

* I give it up,' said old Mainspring. But when this chap sees 
the old folk's backs turned for gix hours he's bound to work a 
miracle on the old Eight Day. There I I've told you my 
trouble. But, honour bright now, is it a fact that you've been 
born again ?" 

** Will," replied I, ** don't you think it time we should both 
turn over a new leaf? I am not able to tell clearly whether I 
have been born again or not ; but I'll say this much— my mind 
has undergone a wonderful change of late. I have got to look 
upon everything in a different light, and I'm certain I can 
never again find any enjoyment in the old ways. Hell, another 
world, and the things of religion have been constantly in my 
mind for months past, and I couldn't drive them out though I 



RHYS LEWIS. 257 



tried. I wanted to tell you I had resolved to become a good 
boy, if I shall have help to do so. And there is nothing on 
earth I would like better than for you to take the same resolu- 
tion. You have always been a great friend of mine, and if our 
mode of life differs so much that we are obliged to part, it will 
be a most painful thing to me. You know as well as I, and 
better, that it won't do to go on as we have done ; it is sure to 
«nd badly. Do you not think of that, sometimes. Will?'* 

♦' Go on with your sermon. Say : * we will observe, second- 
ly,' " returned Will. 

"No sermon at all, Will," said I. ** Only a friendly con- 
versation." 

"Well, if it isn't a sermon, I've heard many worse," he re- 
marked. "But to be serious. I had for some time seen that 
you had gone on that line, and I said so, didn't 1 ? To tell 
the truth, I didn't much wonder at it, because religion comes 
natural to your family, barring your father— no offence, mind. 
If I'd been brought up like you, p'raps there'd be a touch of 
religion about me too; but you never saw less of that sort of 
thing anywhere than yonder, except the bit we get on Sunday. 
Though not quite a pattern of morality myself, still I think I 
know what religion is. If I hadn't been acquainted with your 
mother, old Abel, ' Old Waterworks,' and some half a dozen 
others, I should have thought, for certain, they were hypo- 
ciites, the whole bag of tricks." 

" It isn't proper in you, Will, to speak lightly of your 
parents," I observed. 

" I don't speak lightly of them," he rejoined. ** It's of their 
religion I'm talking ; and man an<i his religion are two differ- 
ent things entirely. As a man of business, clever at a bargain, 
as a money-maker, and one who takes care to find plenty of 
grub for a chap, the gaffer is A 1 . But I'll take my oath he 
can't repeat two verses of Scripture correctly, any more than 
myself. He never looks at the Bible except for a couple of 
minutes before going to school on the Sunday. It is as good aa 
new now— the Bible he had presented him on bis marriage; 
not like your mother's, all to smithereens. I believe, though, 
that if his day-book and ledger caught fire to night, the old man 

B 



258 RHYS LEWIS. 



would be able to copy them out pretty correctly next raoining. 
It's a fact, Sir. Do you think I don't know what religion is ? 
He puts down four shillings a month for mother, four shillings 
for himself, and a shilling for me, regularly, on the Society 
book. But do you s'pose credit is given for that in the ledger 
up above? It's all my eye, lad. I know how things should be 
done, right enough, even if I don't do them myself. If the 
gaflfer fancies he can shut his conscience up in that way, I'm 
wide awake enough to know we can't cheat the Almighty. 
I'm as certain as anybody that it is necessary to live religious- 
ly three hundred and sixty five days in the year, and not fifty 
two. Father and mother would make proper honorary 
members of a church if there were any. But there are none, 
I know, and so it *11 be no go with them in the end." 

*• Your responsibility is so much the greater, Will ; knowing 
what you ouirht to do and not doing it," said I. 

" Do you think you're telling me anything new?" he asked. 
** I learnt all that when I was a kid. I am only speaking of 
the kind of rearing I've had, and whitt I have seen at home. 
*It is enough for the disciple that he 'oe as his father.' There's 
a verse of that sort, isn't there ? " 
•* ' As his master,* " said I. 

*' Quite so," quoth Will. '* It's very odd I can never repeat 
a verse without making some mistake, although I know 
hundreds of comic songs, right off the reel. But, with reference 
to religion, father and master, it's all the same ; and perhaps it 
may be father in the original, as they say. But to the point 
at issue. I know what a professor should be, both on Sunday 
and on Monday ; but I've seen so much humbug, fudge and 
hypocrisy carried on that it's made my heart quite hard, and 
filled my pockets with wild oats, which I am bound to go and 
sow, I fancy. Do you know what ? I am quite ashamed to 
stay in the Society. Everybody must be aware I'm not fit to 
be there, and the Great King knows that my father, who 
compels me to belong to it, is just as fit to be there as myself. 
As a family, there is no more religion in us than in a milestone; 
nor as much, for that does answer the purpose for which it was 
made. You know I'm not a bad sort, by nature. I myself 
have often wondered how I'm so good. I've sometimes thought 



RHYS LEWIS. 259 



if I'd been son to some one like Abel Hughes, I should— well 
how do you know what I'd have been ? But ' to be or not to be, 
that is the question,' says Shakspeare ; ' what is, is, and tlieir;'s 
an end of it,' say I." 

" You're in error. Will," I remarked. ••You know you can 
and ought to be something different to what you are. You 
have brilUant talents, and it is a pity you should use them in the 
service of the devil." 

" You may just as well stop it there," said "Will. '« You 
can't tell me anything I don't know already. 'Twould be sheer 
hypocrisy for me to say Tm turnip-headed. But, with relig- 
ion, look you, brains without grace are good for nothini: ; and 
grace, you know, is not a thing you can buy in a shop, like a 
pound of sugar. It must either come straight from the head 
office or not at all." 

" Why don't you go to the ' head office ' to fetch it, then ?" 
I asked. 

•' I knew you'd say that," he replied ; " but easier said than 
done. Something keeps telling me — I will not say it's Satan, 
because William the Coal has laid quite enough blame on him 
already— something tells me I've not had my innings. Old 
Abel, or someone, has bowled you out, and I'm very glad it is 
so. But up to now I'm at the wicket ; although, perhaps, I 
shall be ' well caught' or ' spread-eagled' some day. I hope 
so, because I shouldn't care to carry my bat out, you know. I 
too would like to find religion, only it must be one of the right 
sort. * Beware of imitations ' is a motto for every man. P'r'aps 
you think Will is more hardened than he really is. Hold on a 
bit ! I'm not quite like Spanish iron yet. You never saw me 
cry, did you ? But many a night, when I have failed to sleep, 
and something within me kept telling me I was a wicked boy, 
I've had a right good cry. But by the momiug I hardened 
again, and something would tell me I had let private apart- 
ments in my heart to some little devil who had become my 
master. I never got the least help from father and mother 
to turn bim out. I much think it was to him your mother 
used to allude ; only she called him the * old man.' The Bible 
speaks, doesn't it, of some bad sorts of them who won't go out 
without fasting and prayer ? Well, I can't for the life of me 



26o RHYS LEWIS, 

pray— you can't possibly get them in the humour for that, over 
yonder — and I can't sham. Talk of fasting, why, I give my devil 
a dozen meals a day sometimes. I'll take oath he's as fat as 
mud by now. But to tell you the truth, I'd like to put him on 
one meal and starve him. I have studied a little of human 
nature, and I knew you felt shy of meeting me. You thought 
I meant to make fun of you. Far from it. I'm real glad 
you've been converted. You want to become a preacher, don't 
you ? You needn't shake your head, it's a preacher you will 
be. I knew it since you were a kid. That's what your mother 
wanted you to be, and if she has asked it of the Almighty, He 
is bound to oblige her. P'r'aps you won't believe me, but I'll 
take oath I've often felt uncomfortable at the thought that I 
have done you harm. However, since you've had a turn, you'll 
make a better preacher than if you'd always kept on the straight 
line. You know no one can play whist unless he is able to 
tell how many cards of any particular suit are out. I never 
saw any of these milk and water fellows— those who have never 
done wrong— making much of a mark at preaching. They 
don't know the ins and outs, you see. They preach well, 
but nothing extra. Mark what I tell you: if you hear a man 
preaching extra good, and take the trouble to look up hia 
history, you're bou^kd to find he has been, some time or another, 
off the rails. Did Peter never go off the rails? Yes, and 
what IS more his engine went to smash as well. But he made 
a stunning preacher afterwards. Boss of the lot, wasn't he ? 
Well, if you're for becoming a preacher— you needn't shake 
your head, I tell you again, you're bound to be— I'll give you 
a word of advice. P'r'aps this '11 be the last chance I shall 
have, because if there isn't a change of policy over yonder very 
shortly, this chap will be heard saying, ' Adieu ! my native land, 
adieu!' You're cleverer than lam in Scripture, but p'r'aps I've 
noticed some things that you haven't, and I may be able to give 
you a bit of advice which you won't get in the Monthly Meeting. 
Well, remember to be true to nature. After you've begun 
preaching don't change your face and your voice and your 
coat, all within the fortnight. If you do I shall be bound to 
chaff you. It's God's work, I know, your change of heart ; 
but if your throat and voice change, that'll be your work. 
And there's no necessity for it — they'll do very well as they 



I 



RBYS ZEJVIS. 261 



are. Don't try to be somebody else, or you'll be nobody at all. 
D'ye know what ? Some preachers are like ventriloquists. In 
the house each remains himself, but directly he gets into the 
pulpit, you might swear he was some other man, that other 
man being the poorer of the two, because he is not true to 
nature. Don't go droning your reasons to the congreiration, 
like one who isn't in his senses ; for the fact that you are in the 
pulpit doesn't give you a license to be sillier than you are anv- 
where else. If you were to carry on a sing-song argument with 
a man in the street, or in the house, or before the magistrates, 
they'd cart you off to the asylum, right away. To hear a 
preacher tuning it, for all the world as if he were at a concert, 
one minute, and the next breaking off, sharp, and talking like 
anybody else, makes me think it's all a dodge, and turns my 
heait to stone. "When praying, don't open your eyes. I'll 
never believe anyone to be religious who looks up to see what 
o'clock it is, in the middle of prayer. I've seen men do that, 
and it has spoiled the pudding for me. When you are a 
preacher— as you are bound to be, so you needn't shake your 
head— don't take on you to be holier than you really are, or 
else you'll make the children all afraid of you. D'ye know 
what? We had a preacher lodging at our house last Monthly 
Meeting, of whom I was afraid in my heart. He was in good 
health, and ate heartily, but kept on groaning at meals as if he 
had an everlasting toothache. It was just as if he wore a coffin 
plate upon his breast ; I felt like being at a funeral, as long as 
he stayed there. I'd have been bolder, I swear, with the 
Apostle Paul, or Christ himself, had they visited us. It wasn't 
true 10 nature, you know. If you want to give yourself airs 
of that sort, just you keep them till you get back to the house 
whose rent you pay. Be honourable, always. Don't forget to 
give the girl at your lo'^gings sixpence, even if you haven't 
another in your pocket; for shell never believe a word of your 
sermon if you don t. If you smoke— and all j>reat preachers 
smoke— remember it is your own tobacco you use, or there'll 
be grumbling after you've gone. You know I'm fond of a bit 
of nonsense; but, if you preach seriously, don't tell funny 
stories after getting back to the house, or someone is sure to 
think you a humbug. I like the preacher who is tme to 
nature, both in the pulpit and at home ; but to hear one who 



262 RHYS LEWIS, 



has almost made me cry in chapel, afterwards quite make me 
laugh in the house, spoils the sermon for mo. When preach- 
ing, don't beat too long about the bush; come to the point, hit 
the nail upon the head and have done with it. Don't talk too 
much about the law and things like that, for what do I and my 
sort know about the law ; come to the point — Jesus Christ. If 
you can't make everyone in chapel listen to you, give it up as 
a bad job and take to selling calico. If you go to college— 
and I know you will— don't be like the rest of them. They tell 
me the students are as much alike as postage stamps. Try and 
be an exception to the rule. Don't let the deacons announce 
you as * a young man from Bala.' Preach till it be sufficient 
to say, 'Ehys Lewis,' without mentioning where you come 
from. When in college, whatever else you learn, be sure you 
study nature, literature and English, for those will pay you 
for their keep, some day. If you get on well — and you're 
bound to— don't swallow the poker and forget old chums. 
Don't wear specs to try and make people believe you've ruined 
your sight by study, and to give yourself an excuse for 
not remembering old friends ; because everybody'll know it's 
all fudge. If you are ordained, don't begin to wear a white 
neckerchief on the very next Sunday. If you never wore one 
it wouldn't matter, for I shan't believe Paul and his companions 
did — they had no time to wait to get them starched. Never 
break an engaofement for the sake of better pay, or you'll 
make far more infidels than Christians. Whatever you do, 
don't become stingy, or christen yourself a saving man. 
Honour bright! I hope I shall never hear that about you; 
I'd rather hear of your going on the spree than that you had 
become a miser. I've never known a miser change, but I've 
seen scores of drunken men turning sober. It is stranger than 
fiction to me, but if you went on the spree only once they'd 
stop you from preaching ; although if you were the biggest 
miser in the country you'd be allowed to go on just the same. 
Old fellow ! don't you think this is pretty good advice, con- 
sidering who I am ? Monthly Meeting will tell you all you 
want to know with respect to prayer and so on ; but it hasn't 
the courage to give you the counsels I have given. Give us 
your paw and wire in, old boy ! " 
And Will left me before I could put in a word. 



RBYS LEWIS. 263 



CHAPTER XXX. 

THE POACHER. 

I THOUGHT I knew my friend Will Bryan thoroughly. I had 
hnd every opportunity for so doing. He was so frank and 
open-hearted, that I fancied there was no difficulty in reading 
him. But from the conversation recorded in the preceding 
chapter, I saw there were strata in his character, of the 
existence of which I was not previously aware. I had always 
considered him the picture of health and vivacity, and as ono 
whose talents shone although they had never been cultivated. 
He was no great reader ; but of whatsoever he read he took in 
the meaning and spirit at a gulp. He was too listless to 
take pains, but then he did everything, apparently, without 
effort. All he saw and all he heard— sermons excepted— he 
took down, as it were, in shorthand upon his memory. He 
was a shrewd, keen observer of men and things. To use his 
own idiom, he was constantly " spotting" something or some- 
body, and it was but seldom he was far off the mark. On return- 
ing home together from places we had visited he would aston- 
ish me with the number of things he had ''spotted," but which 
I had never noticed at all. T am not much surprised, now, that 
he used to call me, on such occasions, Bartimaeus. I often 
envied his ability to see things as they were, and not as they 
seemed. I considered, always, that he had a natural faculty 
for detecting deceit and trickery, or as he called them 
"humbug" and "fudge." His shrewdness and his knack of 
setting things forth in their true colours— in few, but cutting 
words -had impressed me for years, and induced me to emulate 
him. But, for all that, I felt, as he himself admitted, that he had 
•'done me harm;" for, many a time, when I fancied myself 
benefitting from a sermon or address. Will would destroy the 
good impression by pointing out some " humbug" in it of his 
own discovering. Although I could place greater reliance 
upon his honour, and presume farther upon his generosity 
than anyone else, still, I was convinced that he was an utter 
Btranger to serious feeling, and wholly unconcerned about hi3 
spiritual condition. After I had resolved to reveal my intention 



264 RHYS LEWIS. 



to reform, I expected, as already intimated, lie would be 
severely sarcastic at my expense. But I was dissappointed. It 
surprised me to find him rejoice at my having *' had a turn,'* 
as he phrased it, and that there was a longing in his own 
heart for a similar awakening. He did not intend, he said, to 
carry out his bat in the game he was playing. In the solitude 
and silence of night had come a cry from the depths of his 
consciousness : ** Will, why art thou wicked ? " But, as he said, 
he got no help from his parents *' to turn the evil spirit out.'* 
Poor old Will ! I have often thought if he had received a 
religious rearing, if he had seen anything but worldliness and 
worship of the golden calf at home, he might to-day be an 
ornament not only to his neighbourhood but to his nation. In 
the most reckless of us there is a kind of duality. Although 
depravity may be uppermost, there is something at the bottom 
of the heart which doffs its hat to goodness, to truth. I once 
knew a drunken, wholly irreligious man who, on receiving a 
letter from a son who had left home, giving an accouut of his 
reception into full church membership, was so overcome with 
emotion that ho was obliged to beat a hasty retreat into 
another room, out of sight of his family, in order to weep out 
his joy. What a homage to religion ! Whether on a throne 
or off, it is virtue that is paramount, by common consent. Amid 
all his frivolity and mischief. Will Bryan had his serious hours, 
when Conscience insisted upon being heard, and his soul sighed 
for help to cast forth the spirit of evil. I should never have 
imagined that such thoughts found a place in his heart, if ho 
himself had not admitted to me that they had. The secret 
history of his heart, told by one friend to another, often elicits 
other history kept equally secret theretofore. 

I do not know what made Will Bryan think I wished to be* 
come a preacher, because I am certain I never disclosed tho 
fact to him. When a lad, it is true, I delighted in the notion 
of one day joining the ministry ; but it was a secret which I 
confided to not a living soul. For some years my mode of life 
had been anything but favourable to such a notion, and the 
boyish desire was entirely eliminated from my mind by tho 
time I had become of age and sense. When Will protested it 
was a preacher I must be, nothing was farther from my 



RHYS LEWIS. 265 



thoughts. I was in too much trouble about my condition and 
creed to think of anything else. And yet I must confess that 
Will's worns : " You needn't shake your head ; it is a preacher 
you will be," clung to me. He pronounced them with such 
emphasis and certainty that 1 felt constrained to ask myself 
was "Will, like Saul, among the prophets ? I scouted the notion ; 
only no sooner did I do so than it would return. I recalled 
the strange and wonderful feeling that came over me on the 
night of Seth's death, after my attempt to pray by his bedside ; 
how something had told me, on my way home, that I would 
some day be a preacher. But I could not help remembering, 
also, how wicked, how sinful, how flippant I had been, dur- 
ing the many years that had elapsed since mother died ; and I 
fancied hearing unclean spirits at my elbow asking, amidst 
derisive laughter, " Who art thou, to think of preaching ? Thou 
who hast broken every commandment a thousand times?" 
There were dozens of lads about my home who knew my old 
life. How they would smile in the sleeve did I dare to talk of 
such a thing; how they would recall my old tricks, whilst I 
preached ! And how I would remember them on seeing my 
companions ! What, me a preacher ! Impossible ! But then 
how came Will so confidently to predict it was a preacher I 
would be ? He knew more about me than anybody else in the 
neighbourhood; aye, knew more of my faults. And yet he 
had said, "You are bound to be a preacher!" Impossible, 
said I to myself. I am certain neither of my salvation nor my 
faith. He who thinks of preaching should first of all be assu- 
red of his own salvation. It is not so with me. Once more did I 
discard the idea of becoming a preacher, it being out of the 
question, I thought, that such a thing could ever happen. 

Weeks passed ; and somehow, of late, I found myself no 
longer caring for light-coloured clothes— not because I thought 
of being a preacher, but because black clothes appeared more 
becoming. I had light clothes no worse than new in my box, 
but I would not wear, because I did not like them. I made 
up my mind that the next coat I got made for myself should be 
a little longer-bodied, although not so long as the preachers', 
not for anyone to think I was imitating them, than which noth- 
ing was farther from my mind. I took a special interest in 



266 J^HYS LEWIS. 



books of divinity, and wondered a little why others of the like 
age did not relish them as I did. I remembered the time wben 
I was much given to criticise the preachers, and to find faults 
in their sermons ; but latterly I had got to wonder how really 
blameless they' were, and how they managed to fulfil their 
duties so surpassingly well. Previously, I hated to find it be- 
coming Abel's turn to take the •• monthly " entertainment of 
the preacher ; but now, I longed for its advent, and spent all 
the time at my disposal in the speakers' company. I can't, to 
this minute, help laughing at my simplicity. I regarded Abel's 
diary as a sacred book, so sacred that I dared not ask to see it, 
though I burned to know who was to preach with us in the 
coming months. And when Abel happened, forgetfully, to 
leave it on the mantle-piece, the temptation to look hurriedly 
through it was too strong to be withstood. After doing so, I 
felt as guilty, as, I should imagine, the Jew who, not being of 
the order of priesthood, had happened to examine the contents 
of the ark of the covenant I I am sorry to be obliged to admit 
that 1 have not been able to preserve the like feeling of respect 
towards the diary ; because I subsequently discovered some 
things in it which could not always be depended on. Look- 
ing at it at the year's end, I found it contained quite as many 
" fairings"* as fairs, and that the moon had not changed so 
often as the *' promises." 

But to return. I loved to see a preacher coming to Abel 
Hughes's house ; if he was a young one all the better— a stud- 
ent more especially. I could be more bold with these latter, 
and ask them an occasional question, such as, How old were 
they when they began to preach ? Did they find the work very 
difficult ? Was it of their own accord they had taken to it, or 
at the instigation of others ? And so forth. Had I any thought 
of myself beginning to preach ? Nothing was farther from my 
mind, so I fancied. If I secretly cherished any such intention, 
the memory of the disgrace attaching to my family, of which I 
knew not the minute it would be revived and brought pain- 
fully into prominence, was sufficient to blast, for ever, every 

•An allusion to the Ministerial prRctice of exchanging iudififeient 
♦ngagemeuts for better.— Thakslatob. 



RHYS LEWIS. 267 



hope or desire of this kind there miglit be in me. Eecollection 
of my feelings at that time puts me in mind of the incident I 
am now going to relate. 

In the neighbourhood where I was brought up there was a 
strange character known as " Old Nic'las," or, more often 
"Old Nick;" a not inappropriate designation for, with my 
boyish notions of his namesake. I fancied Nic'las and he 
to possess a strong family likeness. The former was tall, had 
a stoop, was muscular and strong. Although at the time I 
speak of an old man, age had not softened or smoothed his 
natural roughness of aspect. His bristly hair obstinately re- 
fused to whiten, his repulsive countenance was too firm set to 
wrinkle. I believe he would have gone mad had he lost a 
tooth. In walking, he always held his head down and rested his 
hands on the small of his back, under his coat-tails. He looked 
no one in the face save from the corners of his cunning eyes. 
H e was such a terror to the children, that when one of them cried 
or refused to come home on being called, the mother might be 
heard saying, "You wait a bit, my boy; here's old Nic'las 
coming," which was quite enough to stop the cry or to send 
the youngster running into the house for his life. Although 
mother never threatened Nic'las upon me, I feared him great- 
ly, notwithstanding. I remember when we were a crowd of 
boys at play, directly we saw Nic'las coining, we scampered off 
to hide, and kept as still as mice out of the way until he had gone 
by. Will Bryan would not believe he was human. "Will used to 
eay he was a cross between a Gipsy and the Evil One. Nic'las 
held no sort of communication with his neighbours, for which, so 
far as I know, no one was the least bit sorry. A stranger to those 
parts, his life and circumstances were a complete mystery. 
Many, however, were the wild and fearful stories told about 
him, implicitly accepted by the credulous and the supersti- 
tious, no one being able to gainsay them. It was pretty 
generally believed that he was of high family and very rich. 
Mother was of opinion that he had sold himself to the Evil 
One, and was living upon the proceeds. I fear her views of 
the pecuniary resources of the Evil One were too broad ; only, 
in face of such a charge, she would instantly answer that the 
love of money is the root of all evil, and that it was not un- 



26S RHYS LEWIS. 



likely the Devil had an enormous old stocking stowed away 
Bomewhere. Anyhow, it is certain that Nic'las was not poor, 
for he lived in his own house, which he had bought for a pretty 
goo'i sum of money. This house, called Garth Ddu, stood in a 
secluded nook, about half a mile from the town, and abutted 
upon the domain of the Hall. Surrounding house and garden 
was a high wall, built after Nic'las had become owner. Whnt 
was visible of the structure had an antiquated look about it, 
the ivy mantling it up to the roof and making the windows 
wholly useless. A stranger would have thought the place had 
no occupant, and would have been confirmed in the notion by 
the appearance of the patch of land attached to the house, 
which had been neither grazed nor mown for years, and which 
human bein? never trod save Nic'las, who might be seen 
occasionally, head downwards, walking by the hedge-side, guQ 
under arm, as if searching, not for a bird but for a badger. 
Since the day Nic'las got into possession, not a foot was known 
to have entered that enclosure save its owner's, and that of a 
disreputable old woman, named Magdalen Bennet, or as sh© 
was commonly called Modlen of the Garth. Not even the tax 
collector was ever allowed to go beyond the door in the wall. 
Nic'las holding no intercourse with his neighbours, what of 
business he had to do with the world was transacted by Modlen 
alone. It was she who brought home his food, and the little 
clothes he stood in need of ; it was she who called for his week- 
ly newspaper. Many were the attempts made to get from 
Modlen some inkling of Nic'las's circumstances and mode of 
life ; but the only reply the old woman ever gave was, " it is a 
question you are putting me." The utmost got out of her, even 
by her best friends, with reference to the way in which he 
spent his time was that he dug his garden and shot sparrows. All 
conversation concerning her master being distasteful to Modlen, 
and she being a good customer, the shopkeepers did not think 
of pestering her with inquiries. And yet they could not help 
wondering at the capacity of Nic'las's stomach, if he alone ate all 
the food she bought for him. Moreover, when they thought of 
the large amount of powder and shot sent him, they wondered 
how a single sparrow had been left alive in all the country. It 
was Modioli's story, probably, which gave rise to the belief that 



RHYS LEWIS. 269 



Nic'las had a magniBcent g^ai'den, -well worth the seeing, and 
made many people grieve that so lovely a glade should waste its 
sweetness in almost the same manner as that desert flower of 
which the poet sings. The hermit life he led, and the halo cf 
mystery surrounding his past had, at the time of which I write, 
become an old story, of which people no longer spoke or 
thought. It was pretty generally believed that there was 
something wrong in the head of the queer man of Garth Ddu. 
The common impression, combined with the fact that blows 
had been heard within the garden walls, eflBciently protected 
Nic'las from the prying intrusion of his neighbours. 

Will Bryan and myself held but little communication after 
the colloquy recorded in the previous chapter, and, to his credit 
be it said, this was to be attributed more to Will's resolve not 
to "do harm to me," than to any other cause. I had no longer 
any particular friend, with the exception of Abel Hughes; but, 
then, he was an old man. I spent my leisure time for the most 
part alone ; and the more I read and studied, the more did the 
great questions of life weigh down my soul. No sooner did I 
find light thrown upon one mind-trouble, than I was in the 
midst of another, and I hardly ever got the better of my 
dejection save at short intervals. I often pined for a compan- 
ion of my own age and disposition, to whom I could lay bar© 
my heart ; because, when I found myself in a difficulty or got 
fresh light on any subject, some spirit of speech came to me, 
and I longed for a hearer. I never was in robust health, and 
this disposition to stay within doors proved very injurious to 
me. When the weather was fine, Abel absolutely compelled me 
to go out for a walk. One night, towards the end of May, I 
remember well, after shutting shop, going, unasked, for a long 
stroll into the cojntry. It was exceptionally clear and beauti- 
ful out of doors ; so I took the zig-zag path by Alun's side, 
passing, as 1 went, a number of clerks amusing themselves 
angling. Having gone far enough, I fancied I could get back 
sooner by another loute. I crossed a couple of fields and, as I 
now remember, trespassed in so doing, and came into the high 
road leading by the Hall, whose surroundings I enjoyed, and 
whose isolation 1 drank in with delight, spite the fact that, for 
reasons already recorded, 1 felt no respect for the owner. I 



270 RHYS LEWIS, 



thought, if I may be permitted to say so, there was at once 
a simplicity and a god-like majesty about those tall trees 
shadowing the road on either hand; and that saying about 
** the trees of the Lord " came into my mind with a new and 
mystic meaning. No wonder, thought I, Will Bryan should 
talk so much of '• nature." I don't know whether anyone 
else feels similarly, but, ever since I can remember, a feeling of 
reverence comes over me when I find myself in a great umbra- 
geous forest. Perhaps it is something I, as a Briton, have 
inherited from the Druids of old ; or it is possible the feeling may 
be commoner than I have imagined. The inspired writers, for 
instance, speak with respect of the cedars of Lebanon. It may 
be some will smile at the idea ; but I have thought that you 
meet with more of God in a wooded country than in a bare and 
exposed one. At any rate, on that night, in a silence broken 
only by the baying of a hound at the Hall and the sound of 
my own footsteps on the hard roadway, I felt a sort of watch 
and ward kept over me as I walked, contemplatively, between 
that avenue of giant trees, standing out like grenadiers of 
God. On reaching the spot where the wood was thickest and 
gloomiest, and wherefrom the twilight was almost completely ex- 
cluded, I saw coming to meet me a big man, slowly stalking and 
with head bent to earth. When we had got a little nearer each 
other I perceived it was Old Nic'las. The sight fairly made my 
flesh creep. I had not come across him for some time, and 
there was something in his look that night which agreed so 
well with the depressing loneliness of the place, that I lost every 
grain of that feeling of security which had possessed me only a 
moment previously. The sentinel trees seemed no longer 
grenadiers, but grim mantles, oflPering cover for a ghastly 
murder. 

With trembling hand I buttoned up my coat over a still more 
trembling heart, and walked rapidly on. "Good night, Mr. 
Nic'las," said I, in as bold a tone as I could command. Nic'las 
ar.swered never a word, and did not even raise his head. After 
I had proceeded a few yards, I looked back and saw Nic'las 
going leisurely on his way. How foolish to be so frightened ! 
Nic'las, poor old fellow, was an innocent creature enough. Leav- 
ing the main road, I struck the path leading by Garth Ddu, which 



RHYS LEWIS. 271 



I reached in a few minutes. I could not help stooping to take 
a look at the old house. How silly, thought I, of the people of 
the neighbourhood to associate such fearful, baseless, fables 
with its owner. In all my life I had never heard that Nic'laa 
had said a nasty word to anybody. He had an odd way of living, 
it was useless to deny; but, so far as the facts went, no one 
could say that Nic'las was not a harmless man, after all. If he 
chose to make himself a mystery and a riddle to those around, 
he had a perfect right to do so, for he never did anybody wrong. 
There was, I thought, a charm about a secret, recluse life, and 
Nic'las, doubtless, found a pleasure in it. At the same time, 
I felt a great curiosity with respect to the house, especially 
now that its owner was from home. I should like to see the 
garden of which there was so much talk. The wall was not too 
high for me to climb. I resolved to make the attempt, and had 
just begun the task when I felt a strong grip laid upon my 
collar, and myself shaken as a terrier shakes a rat. The hand 
was old Nic'las's. 

"A thief is it! A thief in the house of Nic'las of Garth 
Ddu! Eather venturesome, eh?" he cried, giving me another 
shake which almost shook my soul from my body. 

" "Who are you?" he went on. ""What are you? "Where 

d'ye come from ? Speak ! Say your prayers ! or by 

I'll pull you into four quarters and a head ! " 

If he hadn't held me by the collar, as a cat hoLls a mouse in 
her paw, I am certain I should have fallen from sheer fright. 
I tried to speak, but mouth and tongue were dry as a cake, and 
I couldn't get out a word. I believed, for certain, he was 
going to murder me, but I could not have cried out had I been 
given the world. A hundred thoughts flashed across my brain : 
death by torture, another existence, my condition, mother, 
Bob, Abel Hughes, with all their associations, and if ever I 
prayed it was then. All this took only a quarter of a minute 
to think of; I, the while, gazing terrified at the fiendish face 
of old Nic'las, unable to utter a cry. Almost directly, he 
slackened his hold of me, but without letting go, and I could 
see by his looks that he was half satisfied with the scare he 
had given me. In a somewhat milder tone he asked me, once 
more : " "Who are you, and what do you want ? " 



272 RBYS LEWIS, 



I don't know how it came about, but all of a sudden my 
tongue eased a bit, and I wes enabled tremulously to answer : 

"I'm no thief Mr. Nic'las. I'm 'prentice to Abel Hughes, 
and I only wanted to see your garden ; that's the truth." 

** Wanted to see my garden, eh? Modlen's been palavering, 
I know, that the garden is worth seeing; yes, worth the seeing. 
If the old hag doesn't keep her tongue still, I'll shoot her, dead 
as a door nail, that I will. And every boy I catch climbing 
my garden wall, I'll flay him alive, and throw his flesh to the 
dog— that'll save me buying meat for him. You want to see 
the garden, do you ? Well, you shall see it, for it's worth 
seeing. Ha, ha! Come inside." 

With one hand Nic'las kept his grip of me, while with the 
other he drew from his pocket a latch key, with which he 
opened the door in the wall. He led me through and carefully 
closed the door behind him. He then released me and ordered 
me to follow him. What was my surprise when I beheld the 
famous garden ! It was a perfect wilderness, and, from its 
appearance, the owner could not have put a spade into it for 
years. With the exception of the path, which went about it, 
it was fairly hidden with thorns and brambles. Some of the 
bushes were dead or decayed, while others appeared to have 
broken heart for want of nourishment. For all that, Nic'las 
took me round, pretending to point out difi'erent kinds of fruits, 
flowers and plants which the place contained, using their 
technical names, and descanting elaborately on each variety, 
just as if he had been a professional gardener. When it was all 
over he laughed a harsh, jeering laugh, and said: "The 
garden is worth seeing, is'nt it ? " 

His classical gibberish concerning thorns, briars and weeds, 
being ended, he began mumbling disjointedly, as a maniac 
would ; his words, as far as I can recollect them, being some- 
what as follow : — 

•' Who's Nic'las of Garth Ddu ? Where does he come from ? 
Whom does he belong to ? How does he live ? You'd like to 
know, wouldn't you ? But you shan't. You think Nic'las a 
fool ; he is a fool, too. Who was Nic'las's father ? David 
Nic'las, Esquire, great man, wise man, merchant, miser, idiot. 
Didn't he smother his wife before, no, after, Nic'las, Garth Ddu 



K/IYS LEWIS. 273 



was bom ? Who saw her die ? How much did David Nic'las, 
Esquire, merchant, miser, idiot, pay the doctor not to tell? 
Where did David Nic las, Esquire, merchant, miser, idiot, 
Bend Xic'las, Garth Ddu, to be nursed? Did he pay a 
hundred, two hundred pounds for poisoning the child ? When 
did David Nic'las, Esquire, merchant, miser, idiot, get to know 
Nic'las, Garth Ddu, had no brains? What did he offer the 
schoolmaster to kill him with Latin ? Did he offer a hundred 
pounds ? Did he offer two hundred ? Did David Nic'las, Es- 
quire, merchant, miser, idiot, try to kill Nic'las of Garth Ddu, 
twice ? Did he try three times ? Did David Nic'las, Esquire, 
merchant, miser, idiot, get a stroke once ? Did he have a 
stroke twice ? Did he have a stroke three times ? When 
David Nic'las, Esquire, merchant, miser, idiot, got the last 
stroke, did Nic'las of Garth Ddu sit on his chest, and squeeze 
his throat ? Did he do so once ? Did he do it twice ? Can't 
you answer me ? Haven't you a tongue ? Where did Nic'las, 
Garth Ddu, get his money from ? How did he get money? 
Would he have had money had he not sat on David Nic'las, 
Esquire, merchant, miser, idiot's breast ? How much did he 
get ? Did he get two thousand ? Did he get five thousand ? 
Did he ^et ten thousand? Don't you hear? Won't you 
answer ? " 

*' I must have time to consider, Mr. Nic'las," replied I. 

"Consider!" he returned. *' Never take time to consider, 
or your head'U go wrong and you won't be able to sleep for a 
week, for a fortnight, for three weeks. You'll have to walk all 
night, if you're going to consider. Never consider, or you '11 
get soft in the head. Can't you speak ? Are you deaf and 
dumb ? I had a cousin who was deaf and dumb. He was 
always considering, and he died in the Asylum. They wanted 
Nic'las, Garth Ddu, to go to the Asylum, so that they might 
get his money. What do they do in the Asylum ? Nothing 
but consider. Do they consider a week ? Do they consider a 
year ? Won't you answer? Wait a bit ; I'll make you." 

Near by was an old thorn-grown summer-house, into which 
he dived, bringing out with him a double barrelled gun. 

"Do you see this?" he said, recommencing his ravings. 
"What's it good for? Will it kill once ? Will it kill twice? 

8 



274 RHYS LEWIS, 



Here, take hold of it and shoot me. One barrel at a time, 
mind. No, stay ; I'll shoot you first in the head with one 
barrel, and you shoot me, after, in the breast with the other. 
Toss up who'll shoot first I Heads I Tails I Who's to 
shoot first ? Let me consider ; but I musn't consider or 
my head '11 go wrong. Why does Nic'las, Garth Ddu, keep 
so many cats ? To drive the Devil away. Sometimes a 
spirit of murder comes over me, and I'm bound to kill 
somebody. Who'll I kill? If I killed Modlen, who'd fetch 
my things for me ? What do I do ? Kill a cat, and pull her 
all to ribbons ; the evil spirit goes away then. But what if 
the cats won't come ? What am I to do ? Shoot the old tree 
there, see ; this way." 

Nic'las discharged both barrels into the trunk of the old tree. 
I was for some little time unable to make out whether the 
strange old creature was fool or knave ; but while his rhcdo- 
montade was in progress, I became convinced he was a knave of 
the first order, or, as Will Bryan would say, a perfect humbug. 
It was patent that he was only making an artificial effort to 
impress me with the fact that he was insane. There was not a 
particle of insanity in his features ; and I noticed that he con- 
stantly scanned my face to find out whether his vagaries 
frightened me. In a very few minutes I grew perfectly self- 
possessed, and no more afraid of him than if he were a spar- 
row. Immediately the report of the gun died away, I saw a 
short man coming from the house, and making towards us, 
presumably to find out the meaning of the shots. Obviously 
that man's appearance was as unexpected to Nic'las as it was 
to me. I and the new-comer recognised each other directly he 
came up. 

"Holloa, Ehys !" he cried, extending a hand which I re- 
fused to take. *' Nic'las," he went on; •* d'ye know who this 
chap is?" 

Nic'las shook his head. 

*' Our old pal's kid," said the new-comer. 

Nic'las opened wide his eyes in astonishment and, obediently 
to a sign from his comrade, went into the house. 

♦* Won't you shake hands, Ehys? How did you find your 
way here, tell me P" resumed the man, directly Nic'las was out 
of sight. 



RHYS LEWIS. 275 



*'UEcle," I replied— for he was none other than the man 
•whom I hated most on earth ever since I had first seen him 
when I called him '* the Irishman "— ♦» Uncle," I said, ** if I 
shook hands with you I should expect my hand to rot from 
that moment. I detest you with all my heart. Let me out of 
this accursed place." 

*• What's the matter with the hoy ? Why are you so cross ? 
Why hate me ?" he asked. 

*• Why F" rejoined 1. **You know why, very well. It is 
you who've been the cause of all my mother's misery and mine. 
It was you who ruined my father. It was you who taught 
him to poach. It was with you he was when he did that deed 
which compelled him to quit the country. Why do I hate you 
indeed ! Because it was you, of all people, who gave my 
mother most trouble, my father alone excepted. How often 
have you been to our house interfering with our comfort ? How 
many times did my mother give you the last shilling she had 
in the world so as to get rid of you ? And how much oftener 
would you have worried us if you hadn't been afraid of 
Bob ?" 

*'Bob was d fool," he observed. ** Didn't your father 
and I give him a chance of bolting on the uight of his arrest ? 
But he wouldn't, and so, like a ninny, he was taken to 
gaol." 

"Don't you call Bob a fool," said I. ** Bob would have been 
ashamed to take help from two such scoundrels as you and my 
father. Uncle, tell me the truth— if you haven't forgotten the 
way— where is my father ? Is he hiding in this abominable 
hole ? Tell the truth, for once in your lifetime !" 

** He is not," was the answer. *' Your parent is in a much 
warmer place." 

"Where? Speak plainly, and tell us the truth. Where is 
he ?" I asked again. 

" How can I tell ? I never was on the grounds where your 
father now is. All I know is that he has kicked the bucket ; 
and it's a blessed shame you haven't a bit of crape about your 
hat ; you a Methodist, too !" 

To my discredit, be it said, my heart leaped with joy at the 
news. 



276 RHYS LEWIS. 



*• Do you really mean to say my father is dead ?" I queried. 
•* Don't deceive me, now— tell the truth for once." 

" Never was truer word spoken," he replied. *' You know 
your father was fond of drink. Well, both of us had been in 
luck a bit. He got hold of too much brass for his own good ; 
made too free with the whiskey, and had a stroke. I told him 
many times to take care ; but it was no use talking. He turned 
up his toes in Warwick. I happened, as it were, to be, at the 
time, in Leamington — for the sake of my health, you know. I 
took in Warwick on my journey, and there met your father, 
whom I happened to know. I looked after him as long as he 
lived — it was in some not over-respectable public house he had 
put up — and emptied his pockets directly the last breath had 
gone out of him. He didn't want to die, one mortal bit, knowing 
well they are all teetotalers in the other world. But it was his 
own fault entirely— I had warned him against the drink. The 
Union paid for burying him, I being only, as it were, a friend 
of his, you know." 

•♦ If you are telling the truth," I remarked, ** this is the best 
bit of news I ever heard. And if you had only died with him 
I should have been perfectly happy." 

He simply laughed, and said: "Well, when I die, j'^ou, as 
my nearest relative, will come in for all my shootinj* grounds 
— and they are very extensive; reaching from Warwick to 
Reined, in Denbighshire. What do you think ? Tom of 
Nant's ghost looks after one end of the estate, and Shak- 
speare's after the other. They are the two head keepers, 
according to your father. No wonder you want me to die, so 
that you maybe able to say you own your uncle James's estate.'* 

** Give over fooling, and let me out of this horrible place," 
said I, walking towards the door in the wall. 

•'Wait a little; what's your hurry? How does that 

old roundhead behave towards you ? Have you any objection 
to my visiting you on the sly, when I'm hard up ? I see you're 
a bit of a buck, so p'r'aps you'd like to find uncle James look- 
ing you up occasionally. Have you any such thing as half a 
crown about you, that you can spare ? Where did you get 
that watch from P Now I think of it, what '11 you give for the 



RHYS LEWIS. 277 

pawn-ticket of your father's ? You ought to have something 
to remember him by." 

I must tell the truth, however ugly. Some strange, im- 
proper spirit, took possession of me— some strong desire to 
throttle the churl. But I had strength to resist the impulse — 
as was best for me, no doubt. 

" Open the door," I said, " and let me get away." 

" You haven't paid the gate," he observed. 

Son of my mother, I gave him all the money I had about 
me, which was two shillings. 

" Thank you. I shall see you again, when you are more 
flush," he remarked, taking a latch-key from his pocket and 
opening the door. 

Directly I found my feet outside, I turned upon him, and 
looking him resolutely in the face, said, ** Uncle, I have you 
under my thumb now. I've found out your retreat— the den 
you are hiding in— and if ever you show your face to me again, 
or I hear that you've been seen in the neighbourhood, or any 
of your work is being carried on here, remember, I shall re- 
veal the whole to the police." 

** What !" he cried. '• Are you going to split on me ? Do 
you want to slaver your own clothes ?" 

*' As sure as you're a living man," I replied. 

"Look here," he returned; *'you'll never see me again. 
So do your worst, my proud chicken." And he tried to spit in 
my face as he slammed the door in my teeth. 

I went joyfully home. The great burden which had weighed 
upon my mind had dropped to the ground. And yet I could 
not help asking myself, had my uncle told the truth ? I knew 
he was better versed in tilling lies. 



278 RHYS LEWIS, 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

DAVID DAVIS. 

Happy is that man who can look back upon life and, with con- 
science testifying to his truthfulness, say that under every 
circumstance he has behaved exactly as he ought to have done, 
according to the light which was in him. Where does such a 
man exist, now-a-days ? If we gave conscience fair play I am 
certain the greater number of us would say our conduct did not 
always come up to our standards of moral obligation. I fancy 
a few, even of those philosophers who have searched deeply 
into the subject and written copiously thereon, will be found to 
admit that they have not invariably acted in accordance with 
the clear and exalted notions they have formed of the funda- 
mental canons of duty. One sometimes plumes himself on his 
own particular view of the right, and stiffens at the thought of 
his orthodoxy. But worldly circumstances are awkward old 
things, and what wonder is it if man does happen, now and 
then, to depart a little from his creed, or that he finds another 
system called opportunity— if that be the best word for ex- 
pediency — more connatural to his desires when dealing with 
the affairs of life. It is one thing to possess orthodox views ; 
another to comport ourselves at all times in accordance there- 
with. But, thank Heaven ! there are yet in the world men 
who, every day, endeavour to act up to their conviction, let the 
consequences be what they may. 

Inasmuch as I have vowed to tell the truth about myself in 
the present history, I must admit, against myself, that I have 
not, under every circumstance, acted in conformity with my 
own idea of what was right. After that sudden and un- 
expected encounter with my uncle, the first question which 
occurred to my mind was— What ought I to do? Conscience 
straightway answered : *' The path of duty is clear. Go to the 
police at once and tell them what you have seen." But some- 
thing whispered me he was no fool who put the words together, 
♦'Circumstances alter cases." There could be no harm, I 
thought, in taking time, and considering the business 
thoroughly, before finally determinining what to do. Again, 



RHYS LEWIS. 279 



eomethicg hinted, ■would it not be just as well to take counsel 
of a wiser man than myself; would it not be better to 
to tell Abel Hughes the whole, and act upon his advice ? I did 
not like the hint ; and so resolved to take at least a few hours 
to turn the matter over in my own mind before deciding upon- 
a course of action. I went home and retired early to rest, so 
as to have leisure to reflect upon my discovery. The more I 
thought of the occurrence, the more surely did the consideration 
of expediency gain a footing. Personal advantages, one by one, 
irisisted upon stating their claims, while duty— pure, clear, un- 
selfish duty — was steadily pushed into the background. Who 
was he whom, when first I saw him, I called ** the Irishman ? " 
My uncle— full red-blooded brother to my own father. What 
sort of a man was he ? One of the most cunning, lazy, 
degraded scamps that ever trod the earth of Cambria. So 
despicable did he appear to mother and Bob that both tried to 
keep me completely ignorant of his existence. On the night 
Seth died— when I met the depraved wretch near the Hall 
park, and learnt from him our relationship— Bob, finding 
he could no longer keep it from me, told me his history. From 
early youth. Bob said, work had been distasteful to the man. 
While honest people were about their duties he was in bed ; 
and when they were at rest he would be prying up and down 
the country. He never worked ; and yet he managed to live, eat 
and drink— the latter especially. Where did he get the money 
from ? It was he knew that; although his neighbours were not 
without a guess. They believed the game on the Hall estate 
was made to pay tithe towards uncle James's maintenance. 
Though he knew what it was to lodge at the county expense, 
more than once, his power of deceiving the police and game- 
keepers and escaping their clutches for so many years was a 
marvel to all who knew him. My father was a competent 
workman ; but he, too, was given to tipple, and to sit for hours 
in the public house. Tippling begat idleness, and idleness begat 
poverty, and poverty begat sons ffnd daughters— harshness, 
bitterness, bad temper, cruelty. With such a family, who 
can tell the life my poor mother led before I saw the light of 
day ? The trying task it must have been to live religiously 
with the nefarious scoundrel, my father! I have already 
noted, briefly, some of the cruelties practised on my beloved 



28o RHYS LEWIS. 



mother ; and although I cannot help thinking of them in this 
place, their further description is altogether too painful a 
business to undertake. 

My uncle James, so Bob told me, had not much trouble in 
enmeshing father in his evil habits. Before long the pair came 
to be looked upon as professional poachers who succeeded 
surprisingly in escaping the clutches of the law. This was 
attributed to my father's Herculean strength, which was said 
to be the terror of the police. Uncle James, as I have often 
intimated, was but a weakling; but he possessed a cunning, 
craft, and daring beyond my father. The havoc wrought by 
both on his property made the Hall owner dance with fury 
and frequently change his keepers. At last he found a couple 
of men who were not quite afraid of their own shadows. Both 
were Scotch. But they had not been on the estate a whole 
month before they were both wounded and laid up. For some 
days one of them was not expected to recover. From that 
time forth two old inhabitants— uncle James and my father — 
were lost sight of, and, although much sought after, never 
found. All this happened before I was born. Mother was 
** worse than widow" now, to use her own words; but Bob 
was wont to say that this was the luckiest thing that ever 
happened to her. I have already described, at length, the 
hardship she underwent before Bob became able to support 
the family ; but that hardship was nothing in comparison to 
the grief of mind which my father's irreligion caused her, and 
the constant fear she was in lest he should come to visit us, or 
be caught. Her sorrow was renewed and deepened by the sur- 
reptitious visits of my uncle, which mother always took as a 
reminder that her husband could not be far off. These visits oc- 
curred, regularly and without exception, at awkward moments, 
and on dark nights, up to the time when Bob got big enough 
to put a stop to them — their object being always the appropria- 
tion of the whole of mother's money. After every visit mother 
would for days remain sad and silent. I rather think she 
never breathed a word about my uncle's visits to anyone save 
Thomas and Barbara Bartley ; and I make no doubt but it was 
to protect her from all such undesirable occurrences that the 
two kind-hearted old neighbours persuaded her to end her days 



BUYS LEWIS. 281 



» 



with them at the Tump, for nothing else would ever have 
induced her to break up her home. I had, for some years past, 
been flattering myself that the neighbours had about forgotten 
father and uncle, for none of them as much as mentioned their 
names to me. I, however, had sense enough to discern that 
it was their delicacy and a feeling of respect for the memory of 
my religious mother which made them behave towards me as if 
nothing of dishonour had happened in my family history. Not 
a day passed over my head that I did not think how possible it 
was for the whole of such history to be revived, and for me, in 
consequence, to be obliged to hide my head in shame. As often 
as the desire to become a preacher possessed me, the thought 
that my father and uncle might, at any moment, be dragged 
forth from their hiding places into the light of day, would 
choke it back at once. But quite unexpectedly, as narrated, 
here the news came of my father's death, occurring, if true, far 
from home. Think how pitiful must be the family connections 
of one who is made glad when he hears of the death of hi» 
father ! It is useless my attempting to conceal the fact : I 
rejoiced greatly. I felt like one let out from some dark, dank 
dungeon into liberty and fresh air. And yet my head was in a 
muddle, and my conscience kept telling me that I was not 
acting straight. On the one hand, I had discovered Nic'las ta 
be deceiving his neighbours and leading a life which was not so 
retired as he pretended. To say the best of it, he gave shelter to at 
least one character who was a fugitive from his country's laws. 
It was now in my power to strip Garth Ddu of its false 
seclusion. Ought I to do so ? I asked myself, and conscience 
answered, •* You ought, without delay." Besides, there was 
my uncle. I knew hira to be one who did not deserve to be at 
liberty. His crime— <Ac crime— was by this time an old one; 
but that did not lessen its enormity a bit. He was wanted of 
the law that day as much as on the day he did the deed. There 
would be no difficulty in convicting him, for the two half- 
murdered gamekeepers were still alive and in the service of the 
owner of the Hall. They would be able to identify him at once. 
Although the act of which they had been guilty was eighteen 
years old, I had only to whisper some half a dozen words in 
the Hall owner's ear to fan his vengeance into a flame on the 



282 RHYS LEWIS, 



instant, and neither trouble nor expense would have been 
epared to secure my uncle's arrest. The culprit was my 
father's brother, no doubt, but he did not, on that account, 
deserve any mercy at my hands ; it being to hira that I had to 
attribute the greater part of my early troubles. He had ruined 
my father's character and shortened my mother's life. My 
sense of justice distinctly told me it was my duty to disclose 
his whereabouts to the police ; and something within me— pro- 
bably revenge— kept saying, '* What a splendid opportunity of 
repaying the old fox for all the worry he has been to me and 
my family ! " 

That was one side of the question ; but it had another. The 
man best pleased by my turning informer would be the owner 
of the Hall ; and I did not care to add one jot or tittle to his 
happiness. It was he who had sentenced my brother Bob to 
two months' imprisonment without even the semblance of 
evidence of wrong doing ; he who taunted him with my 
father in public court. I had not then, if I have now, forgiven 
his meanness and injustice. Since the day Bob was wrong- 
fully taken to prison, I had cherished a deep hatred of the 
police, however foolish it might have been ; my sympathies, 
spite myself, always resting with the prisoner. Will Bryan, 
too, had, years previously, created a prejudice in my mind 
against them by his nickname of *' the pettifogging Bobbies," 
and I, therefore, did not care to furnish forth a sweet morsel 
for the officers. Besides, I reflected that in my native place — 
as in almost every other— there existed a good deal of fellow- 
feeling with the poacher who was not regarded in the same 
light as other law-breakers ; and if some few would be found 
to admire my unselfishness in giving up my uncle to the 
authorities, the greater number would be sure to look upon me 
as a traitor, and one who, as my uncle said, had " beslavered 
his own clothing." Moreover, were I to make public my dis- 
covery, that which I had always feared would descend upon 
me in one downpour. Although father had died— supposing 
uncle spoke truly — the memory of his crimes would be brought 
up afresh to form a topic of conversation in the smithy, the 
Cross Foxes, the Crowi« and on every hearth. Old neighbours, 
in answer to the questions of those who did not know the 



RHYS LEWIS. 283 



circumstances, would be compelled to say it was of that youth's 
father, who was with Abel Hughes, the people talked. The 
chapel children, with whom I had lately laboured pretty as- 
siduously, would wonder that the man upon his trial was my 
uncle, and that the dead man, as bad as he, was my father. A 
thing of that kind would not be pleasant to contemplate. I 
reflected, further, that if I were to notify the police of my 
uncle's retreat, it was ten to one they would not be able to 
catch him, the probability being that by this time James Lewis 
was far enough away, and that old Nic'las would say my story 
was a lie from beginning to end. In that case I would only 
be reviving unpleasant tales to no particular purpose, save 
that of making many people believe I was poking fun at the 
police. But what most aflfected my determination were my 
mother's words: " If ever you meet with your father, try and 
forget his sins ; and, if you can do any good to him, do it." I 
believe the spirit of that injunction applied equally to my 
uncle ; and furthermore, that had mother been similarly cir- 
cumstanced, she would not have delivered her brother-in-law 
into the hands of the authorities. She was a good woman, and 
why could I not be good, also, while keeping this secret to my- 
self ? I resolved to remain silent, feeling pretty sure, at the 
time, there was no danger of my uncle's showing his face to me 
again. Whether the resolution was wise or unwise will here- 
after appear, if I succeed in completing this autobiography. 

It is no difficult matter to keep a secret when the keeper 
happens to be the man whom its divulgence would most injure. 
Keeping it for another's sake— there's the rub. Even the Devil 
does not tempt us to disclose a thing to our own shame, or 
that of our family. That is his reserve fund for drawing 
upon in the future. The man who refuses to lend his tongue 
to the relation of his neighbour's faults and scandals when 
the relation would do ro good, apprises the world that he will, 
Bome day, be a citizen of that country wherein there is no 
*' fault-upbraiding," and where angels will not object to con- 
eider him one of themselves. A few days after the occurrence 
noted, I began to compliment myself upon my prudence; only, 
I must admit, I did not possess that feeling of unalloyed happi- 
ness which a man enjoys after he has done the right, although 



2«4 RHYS LEWIS. 



the doing was against his own interest. It was akin to the 
feeling which the worldling enjoys after he has driven a good 
bargain. God, however, knows that I had in me the desire ta 
do what was just, although I had not the moral courage to do- 
it at the expense of bringing myself into misery and disgrace, 
and the undoing of the programme I had drawn up in my own 
mind. Well would it have been were this the only time I gave 
in to expediency. I have heard, and I am not sure I myself have 
not more than once remarked, that the performance of a single 
act to which conscience does not say Amen, prepares man for 
the commission of other acts of the like nature. Is this true 
under every circumstance ? Not so was it with me on this 
occasion. My work of taking self-interest and self-happines» 
into consideration to the neglect of clear duty, roused the whole 
of my moral nature to greater activity and a determination to 
fulfil that which I considered myself bound to do. But thi* 
possibly was, after all, merely an efiFort to atone for my sin. I 
was strongly inclined to believe my uncle's story concering my 
father's death, and felt ligliter-spirited, and freer to do what I 
could in the cause of religion. I had an excellent master, and 
was at liberty to attend every service held in the chapel— a 
liberty I was not backward in using. Poor old Jones wa» 
never over-desirous of going to chapel ; being nowhere so happy 
as in the shop. Like a well-trained sheep dog, he knew one 
thing, and one only. He knew how to measure cloths, fold 
them and put them in their places. Had Abel Hughes said to 
him, pointing to the pile, "Jones, lie down there!" he would 
have obeyed and looked happy without, I quite believe, ever 
moving from the spot again, until ordered or whistled to by 
Abel. This made it easier for me to attend seivices and meet- 
ings. I fancy Abel thought it no use sending Jones to- 
chapel ; it was just like trying to make the negro white with 
soap and water. 

What changes had taken place in chapel since last it came 
under notice in the present history! Noting changes always 
makes me mournful, and compels me to think how shoit the 
life of man is and how speedily we shall all have given up our 
posts to other people. To the reflective, I think there is no 
place like the chapel for bringing home this lesson. When on© 



JiHYS LE WIS. 285 



has been away for a few years only, how he is struck with the 
change that has taken place in the congregation ! How many 
strange faces he sees in looking about him, and how many of 
the old ones does he fail to come across ! He wonders how 
fiome of his old acquaintances' heads have whitened, and others 
have become bald, so quickly ; forgetting, possibly, that his own 
head has been following the fashion. It was in the period, if 
I remember rightly, when I was between nine years of age and 
twelve, that I last mentioned the chapel and its aflFairs in the 
present history. Comparing the two periods, how different 
eeems the look upon it when I was eighteen years old ! Every 
face was new in the Children's Meeting. John Joseph, our 
old leader, was in Australia; Abel Hughes, from old age, and 
because he could not put up with all the bother of the Sol-fa, 
had given over attending. Who were the leaders now ? Will 
Bryan called me ** boss of the kids." Alexander Phillips (Eoi 
PrydainJ, looked after the singing. The literary society, 
christened by my old companion, *'the Society of the Flat 
Hairs," which had done great good to many in its time, had 
long been dead. Sol-fa killed it— unintentionally, of course. 
It had become almost impossible to get the boys to learn gram- 
mar, write essays, or take part in doctrinal controversy ; such 
things were too dry for them. They found the Sol-fa Society 
more diverting. This one had several advantages over the old 
Literary Society. It was so much nicer to sound *'Doh" all 
together than to conjugate a verb, each by himself; and then 
sight-singing was of greater advantage in this world, if not 
actually also in the world to come, than a proper understand- 
ing of the subject of justification by faith. Besides, the Sol-fa 
Society had been established on wider, sounder and more liber- 
al principles than the Society of the Flat Hairs. It embraced the 
young folk, the middle aged, and the old, male and female. As 
the Society generally had its unquestionable advantages, so 
had the particular phase of it last named ; because, under cer- 
tain circumstances, by the change of a single letter, a singing 
meeting could be converted into another one of an entirely diff- 
erent kind, and yet such an one as would give satisfaction to both 
sexes. Thus, if a meeting had been spent in the incde " lah," 
it was the easiest thing in the world to terminate it in some 



286 RHYS LEWIS, 



other mode. The blessings attending the Society were very many 
and obvious. Under the old Literary and Theological Society's 
dispensation, the young men grew shy, timorous, and as bash- 
ful as if they knew nothing at all. But once brought under the 
influence of the Sol-fa Society, they were taught to hold their 
heads up like men, and show the world they knew *' what's 
what." It was only then they really found they were men, 
and must act as such, and let the vulgar rich know that they 
were not to have all the gloves and the rings to themselves. 
The formation of this Society marked an important epoch in the 
history of the neighbourhood. Speedily the habit which the 
young people had of carrying their Bible to chapel began to dis- 
appear, the Tune Book taking its place. True, here and there 
an old woman, who knew no better, would grow wild from see- 
ing this book usurping the post of its predecessor, but it was 
useless kicking against the progress of the age. Like every 
other reform, this one met with great opposition from old fash- 
ioned folk. My master, Abel Hughes, though ordinarily a sensi- 
ble man enough, was always a bit Toryish when new things were 
introduced. I have, sometimes, seen him refuse to convert Sun- 
day night Society into a Singing Meeting, and also making a 
determined stand against rehearsing cnorai pieces on the Sab- 
bath in view of a forthcoming National Eisteddfod. I heard 
him, with my own ears, declare that singing was of no more 
importance than preaching, and that the Tune Book did not 
deserve greater attention than the Bible. He positively 
refused to ask the preacher to "cut it short," so that more 
time might be allowed the singing. For all " Eos Prydain's" 
wild glare at him, Abel would not give over slurring and sing- 
ing with might and main such words as — 

*• He, led unto Calvary hill, 
Was willingly nailed to the Cross." 

Had Abel lived a little longer he would, doubtless, have 
learned better things. Seeing the marvellous effects wrought 
by the Sol-fa Society, I threw in my lot with it very heartily. 
I remained a member for quite a month; during which period I 
learned not only that I had a most unpromising voice, but that 
I had neither the patience nor the brains to become proficient 



RHYS LEWIS. 287 



in the mysteries of the science. To tell the honest truth, I was 
rather taken a-back at the outset to find that a little boy of 
eight, whom I had great difficulty in learning to spell in Sun- 
day School, was, of all the Society's members, the best sight- 
singer. I saw there was a danger of my losing influence over 
him in class on the Sabbath, and so "made myself scarce," as 
Will Bryan phrased it. I am sorry to this day that I did not ap- 
ply myself to master the Sol-fa ; for it is evident to one who pays 
the slighest attention to the signs of the times that a knowledge 
of this must become indispensable very shortly. The rising 
generation will, doubtless, fi.nd at a Sessional Ordination 
Meeting the catechism of the Confession of Faith giving way 
to the black board and an examination in Sol-fa; while to 
obtain the "voice" of our churches, the preacher will never 
think of passing as fit and proper according to New Testament 
standards unless he is also able to explain minutely the differ- 
ence between the major key and the minor. Sorry am I that I 
neglected the opportunities which were once within my reach ; 
and by this time I am too old to learn. 

But, there, I see I am too much given to passing remarks, 
and that there is a danger, should these lines be read, of my 
being thought sarcastic. The chapel had witnessed many other 
changes, not the least of which was the absence of divers 
old brethren, for whom I had entertained a great respect 
when a boy. Edward Peters, whom I have already mentioned, 
the crabbed old man, careful keeper of the books, had been for 
some time confined to the house. Never did he go to bed of 
Sabbath nights, however, without first ascertaining the amount 
of the collections. Lest I should forget it, let me here say that 
one of his last words before dying was, " Eemember, the 
quarter's pew rents are due next Monday night." He was a 
cocoa nut : hard in the shell, but with the milk of true religion 
at heart. Hugh Bellis, lachrymose under sermon — "Will 
Bryan's " Old Waterworks" — had left *' the children of weep- 
ing and groans," and entered, with sails full set, into that joy of 
which he could not speak while on earth save with sweetest 
tears. Of the old deacons none remained but Abel Hughes, 
and of him my whole heart said, "0 king, live for ever!" 
David Davis, who came to us from another church a deacon 



288 RHYS LEWIS, 



already, was acknowledged as such on joining us. I must 
refer to him again. Thomas Bowen, the preacher, the children's 
great friend, of whom, did time permit, I should like to say a 
good deal, he too had gone, so everybody who knew him 
believed, to that same country to which Hugh Bellis had 
voyaged previously. John Lloyd, perpetual fault-finder, 
named the "Old Scraper" by Will Bryan, was still in our 
midst. Will had, for some time, changed the name into 
•* Chapel nuisance inspector." Thomas and Barbara Bartley 
remained faithful, their religion ever brightening. They had 
<5ome to be considered the two originals in the Society. To 
them Abel Hughes, when he found the conversation flagging, 
would turn round suddenly and say, ** Thomas Bartley, what 
is your opinion upon the point? And it was rarely indeed that 
we did not get something to liven us up. Thomas did not make, 
but relate an experience, always ; oftenest diverting, and all 
the more so that, as Will Bryan said, it was ** true to nature." 
I must give a few examples of this before finishing my history. 
I have alluded several times to William the Coal, given to 
drink and lay the blame on Satan. William was now too old 
to '* follow the harvest," and so was tolerably religious. I re- 
member Abel Hughes, speaking of William, saying that 
poverty was indispensable to the godliness of some people. 
Although an ardent Calvinist, Abel held most liberal views 
in some matters. I heard him say that he hoped when death 
came to William the Coal, it would find him poor; "because," 
Baid he, *' William always keeps very pious on an empty 
pocket." I mention these characters, and these alone, because 
I have had occasion to refer to them previously. 

Our deacons at the time were three— Abel Hughes, Alexan- 
der Phillips (Eoi PrydainJ, and David Davis. Never were 
three more unlike. Abel, as I have described, was a studious 
old man, of deep convictions, who had read much both of Welsh 
and English ; one, to whose opinion at the Monthly Meeting, 
our preachers paid a deal of deference— a man of undoubted 
piety. He was slow, but sure, like fate. ** Eos Prydain " was 
young and unmarried, expert and assiduous with the singing, 
gay-spirited, and a favourite with the younger folk. He gave 
his best years to the exclusive study of music, and succeeded 



J^HYS LEWIS. 289 



in making liimself a master of the art. Seldom hare I seen his 
equal for arranging and carrying out a concert. His fidelity 
to the musical portion of the service vras, so the old people said, 
** a pattern." His life was almost flawless; his only fault, if 
fault it were, being a tendency now and then to turn the leaves 
of the tune book during the sermon, and to warp his mouth 
into a circle as if he were whistling from the chest. Dayid 
Davis was a middle aged man, a monoglot, brought up in the 
country, religious, sensible, earnest, a man of one book, of 
whom the proverb rightly told you to beware. His main ob- 
jects in life were his religion and his farm. He knew no more 
about politics than Abel (not Hughes, but son of Adam). He 
had two masters— God and his landlord. To the latter he paid 
a deserving respect ; to the former he gave his whole heart. 
Both found in him a faithful servant, honest and upright. He 
would have had more money in the bank if he had not given 
60 much time and thought to making himself a purse which 
neither moth nor rust could corrupt. He grieved more over a 
backsliding member of the church than for the sheep which had 
strayed from his farm. On the loss of three of his bullocks by 
the plague, he thanked God he had others left alive as good as 
they ; but on the death of a pious church sister, David Davis 
stayed in mourning for weeks. The potato disease was not a 
pleasant matter for him, but the depressed state of religion 
pained him much more. He was heartily thankful for an 
abundant harvest, but a hundred times more so for a revival of 
religion. Occasionally, and only when he thought of it, he 
consulted the weather-glass ; but not a day passed that he did 
not consult the Bible to ascertain the state of the weather 
awaiting his soul, whether storm or fair were in store. The 
world and its hurry-scurry affected him almost as little as they 
do the man on board ship in mid-ocean. Like that man, too, 
David Davis had a compass, and knew tolerably well the port 
lor which he was steering. He was a man of serious feeling. 
I never heard him laugh, but his face wore an unconscious 
smile which showed the quiet mind — a smile which is the 
Devil's particular dislike. You sometimes meet a man about 
whose religion theie is a fluffy effeminacy, which makes you 
think he would be less religious were he more enlightened, 

T 



290 RHYS LEWIS 



David Davis was not one of that sort. He made the Bible the 
chief study of bis life, and the Bible itself \ras his chief exposi- 
tion of the Bible. In reading a portion of the life of Christ by- 
one evangelist, it appeared to me that every word the other 
had written thereon "was present to David's mind, and could be 
quoted from memory. I admired him greatly, and wondeied 
that a man who did not understand English had mastered his 
Bible so thoroughly. It may be, after all, that I formed so 
high an opinion of David Davis because he made so much 
of me, whom he took with him to hold prayer meetings in 
private houses, and because it was he who first induced me 
to •* say a word." I was eighteen years old, the secretary of 
the Sunday School, which I had begun with prayer many 
times; although I had never "said" anything in public. 
With David Davis, I had often held prayer meetings about the 
houses, but had never "said" anj'-thing. In coming away 
from one such meeting, David Davis caug-ht hold of my arm, 
and said, " Rhys, the next prayer meeting will be held at 
Thomas Bartley's house, and I would like you to say some- 
thing on a chapter. You will, will you not? The friends will 
be glad to hear you. * Let us not be weary in well doing, for 
in due season we shall reap if we faint not.' You have a week 
to prepare, and you will do so, will you not ?" His words gave 
me a kind of electric shock. I fancy I said something about 
my diffidence, but I did not say "I will not." Perhaps it 
would have been better had I said " I won't," or *' I had rather 
not," as I shall show in the succeeding chapter. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

THE MULTITUDE OF COUNSELLORS. 

In the earlier recollections of most of us some old house oi 
the other is sure of being bosomed. In my case the memory 
hovers lovingly about the Tump— Thomas Bartley's old house 
— with its cosy kitchen, its ancient black furniture, its great 
settle, pewter plates and wide hobs, on which I have hundreds 
of times sat. Everything connected with that kitchen is 



J^HVS LEWIS. 291 



I 



present to my mind at this moment, even to the flif-oh -s of 
bacon, the ropes of onions, and the wormwood, lapped iu an old 
newspaper, dependent from the ceiling. Hanging by a leather 
lace upon the wall was an old parish constable's staff, painted 
blue and red probably before the modern *' Bobby " was born. 
I remember Will Bryan, while looking at it, say, as if to him- 
self, " I wonder how many a poor fellow was knocked over by 
that very weapon." From the time I used to walk in mother's 
hand to the Tump— when my chief delight was to hold the light 
to Thomas Bartley's pipe— down to the time her spirit winged 
its way thence to another world, my reminiscences crowd in 
upon me. It can be said with certainty that the humblest cot 
which has been a nursery for heaven is surrounded by a 
sanctity wholly absent from the palace whose rich apartments 
have known nothing but pomp and revelry. Seth's simple soul 
— as far as my knowledge goes— was the first to pass to glory 
from the Tump ; but I am certain it was not the last. When a 
member of the family leaves home, a knowledge of the kind of 
country he is going to becomes precious. If the new sphere 
is found to be an eminently good one, the chances are that the 
fact will create a desire for emigration in the whole family. It 
would have been difficult to persuade Jacob to go to Egypt had 
not his son Joseph been there to receive him. Thomas and 
Barbara Bartley, as mother used to say, were readier to listen 
to the talk about another world after Seth had gone thither to 
live. They looked upon the prayer meeting held in their house 
as one for a discussion of the affairs of that far-off colony. As 
I have intimated, I had, for some time, been accustomed to 
take part in such gatherings, to the great satisfaction of Thomas 
Bartley, who declared that I could read "like a parson." It 
was, no doubt, a matter of surprise to Thomas, who had only 
*' a grip of the letters," that any young man should be able to 
read at all. 

The reflection was by no means unpleasant, that it was in 
Thomas Bartley's house the prayer meeting was to be held at 
which I was expected to expound a chapter, on the invitation 
of David Davis. All the week long hardly anything else found 
a place in my thoughts. I was in a bit of a fix as to which 
portion of the Scriptures I should take as a text. At one time 



292 RHYS LEIVJS. 



I fancied one of the parables would be rery suitable ; but after 
thinking a little over the one selected, I saw I could say hardly 
anything in respect thereof; so I concluded it would be more 
proper to attempt an exposition of one of the miracles, and 
deduce some lessons therefrom. No sooner had I settled down 
to work in this direction than some diflBculty arose, which 
made me think I had made another mistake. It would be 
easier, I then reflected, to deal with a singl.e verse than with a 
whole chapter ; only that would make me look as if I wanted 
to become a preacher all at once, and it was not meet I should 
think of anything of the kind. Had David Davis picked out a 
particular portion of the Bible, so that I might prepare myself 
a little, I believed I could have done something with it. It 
was then I first felt that which I have often felt since, namely, 
how easy, how smooth and effortless it seems to talk sense 
upon a verse or chapter, when we listen to another doing it, 
and how difficult it becomes when we set to work to prepare 
something similar ourselves. After a discourse with nothing 
particular about it, you may hear one here and there, among 
the uiitaleuted, say *' Why, I could have preached a better 
sermon than that myself." Try it, my good man, and you will 
very soon see you can't, nor as good ; otherwise, why should 
you find yourself in such a sweat over a scrap of a letter to 
your aunt, and why are you ashamed of it all when done ? Do 
you know, also, good man, that that which reads the most 
simply and naturally, or which descends the preacher's lips 
the easiest, is that which has ofteuest cost the most trouble ? 
But this is what I was saying : I spent some days changing 
my texts, and failing to fix upon any portion of the Bible I felt 
I could say something about, however simple I had considered 
the task before I began. Pressed by time to make a choice, I 
at last settled down seriously, read all the commentaries with- 
in reach, wrote out every word I meant to *' say," committed 
the whole to memory, and on going over it, made particular 
note of the time it took to deliver, lest I should be too long or 
too short, so that by the night of meeting 1 felt myself 
pretty well prepared for the work, and pretty confident 
of making a good impression upon those friends who hap- 
pened to be present. I considered the occasion a most im- 
portant one for me as aflbrding an opening for my ministerial 



RHYS LEWIS. 293 



career. I pictured in my mind a great many things ns the re- 
enlt of •' saying a little on a chapter" in the house of Thomas 
Bartley. I may just as well tell tie honest truth— I thought 
that inasmuch as no one but David Davis and myself knew of 
what was going to take place, I should take several people by 
surprise. I fancied them talking tog^ether on the way home 
from the meeting, one saying, " Didn't the boy discourse well 
•upon the chapter to-night ? He's got the making of a preacher 
in him, sure to you. I was quite astonished." To which the 
other would reply: " I didn't much wonder ; there was always 
something serious about him." These and many other vain 
things did I imagine. Excepting David Davis, I thought I 
need be afraid of none who frequented prayer meetings in 
private houses; and David was always so kind to me that I 
need not fear him. I therefore did not feel at all nervous. It 
was but rarely "Will Bryan came to prayer meetings, if he 
happened, to use his own expression, to be " better employed " 
elsewhere, and I did not, consequently, expect to see him there. 
And even if he should be there, what difference would that 
make to me? 

Wednesday night came, and I went to the meeting full — 
"well, full of something. I was a little late, so as to be more 
like a preacher, perhaps. One of the brethren was busy read- 
ing, and the room was rather full. I sat down near the door- 
way. When I raised my head, Thomas Bartley motioned me 
to come nearer. I signalled back that I did very well, where I 
was. My gesture mane n.e out to be nobody, though I thought 
myself somebody that night. I felt a kind of pleasure in this 
mock humility. Thomas continuing to beckon, I, in order not 
to attract notice, obeyed. When I got into a position whioh 
gave me the benefit of the candle-light, whom should I see in 
a corner but Will Bryan ! When my gaze met his, he gave me 
a wink, as only he could— from about a tenth of the width of 
his eye, but full of meaning. A great lump got into my breast 
on the instant. I believed it was the Evil One who had sent 
Will to that meeting, for he had not been to one, before, for 
many months. For the first time, I felt timid. The brother 
prayed, but I did not listen. I tried to compose myself as best 
I could, and to collect my scattered thoughts; but spite of 



294 RHYS LEWIS. 



everything the lump in my breast increased and came nearer 
and nearer to my throat. I wasn't the least bit afraid of Will, 
80 I fancied, and yet I would rather than anything if he had 
not been there. David Davis called another of the brethren on 
to continue the service. We were singing a stanza when my 
legs began to tremble at a terrible rate, and it was not of the 
slightest use my trying to reason with them, or asking them to 
stop. To my comfort, I suddenly remembered I had not pre- 
arranged with David Davis that he should, on calling me for- 
ward, ask me to ** say a word," lest I should appear to do so 
on my own initiative. I imagined David would not think of 
the thing now ; in which case I resolved to do nothing beyond 
pray. The reflection steadied my legs, and lessened the lump 
in my breast a little. The second brother finished praying ; 
upon which David Davis said : ** Rhys Lewis, come forward, 
my boy, to continue the service and discourse a little upon a 
chapter." My hopes were instantly scattered. I went up, 
bent on doing the best I could. In singing the next verse I 
was compelled either to look at Will Bryan or close my eyes. I 
understood his glance as well as if it spoke to me, and what it 
said was: ** Didn't I tell you that you were bound to be a 
preacher ?" I read the chapter I meant to expound ; and 
hardly did I know my own voice, for its hoarseness. When I 
began to *' discourse a little," every thought and every word 
I had prepared took flight, and I never saw them afterwards, 
from that day to this. I found the room beginning to darken, 
and the people growing bodily less a ad getting farther away 
than they were when I ** went up," while the caudle, like my 
breath, seemed on the point of going out. The next thing I 
remember was hearing David Davis praying loudly and rous- 
ingly. I felt eaten up by shame. The castle I had built had 
gone to smash, my poor heart lying buried beneath the ruins. 
I knew myself to be an object of pity throughout the house— a 
situation galling to the ambitious spirit. One thought alone 
remained to comfort me ; except David Davis, nobody knew 
but that my discourse was wholly unpremeditated, and even he 
did not know I had taken the trouble I did in the preparation. 
As soon as the meeting was over I slunk away, silently and 
hurriedly, without looking at a soul. It was impossible, how- 



RHYS LEWIS. 295 



ever, I could escape my old companion. "Will had cornered 
me before I could get through the court-yard gate. 

** I think I can translate your feelings fairly well to-night, 
old fellow," was his greeting. ** I'm sorry from the heart for 
you, I'll take my oath. You weren't quite equal to the occa- 
sion and, we may as well say fair, you had a break down. But 
don't break your heart— never say die. It was all your own 
fault. You shouldn't have attempted an impromptu exposi- 
tion ; it isn't many of the dons who can do that, on the spur of 
the moment. If David Davis had any sense he would have 
given you a day or two to prepare. It's enough to daunt the 
best man breathing to call upon him there and then to ex- 
pound a chapter. If you'd only had a couple of hours' notice 
you'd haTe managed to say something decent, I'll swear. As 
it was, there was nothing else to expect but that you should 
make a fool of yourself. When I heard David Davis call you 
forward I took it for granted there was some understanding 
between you ; but I saw directly there was none, and I rather 
wondered at your tackling the business, you knowing nothing 
about it till that very minute. It was an awful pity. I wish I 
knew all the Scripture you do. I think you are not short of 
common secse ; but you're deficient in one thing— and that is 
cheek. What's the Welsh word for cheek, do you know ? 
Cheek, mind you, is not the same thing as brazen-facedness, 
although they're very nearly related. Cheek, in my opnion, is 
one of the fine arts, and is a thing that every man ought to 
cultivate, to a certain extent. I don't know whether I can 
make my meaning clear to you. How shall I say? Let's 
see now; cheek is not so vulgar as impudence; it is of a 
higher order of things. The mule is impudent; that is, he 
isn't shy ; but then you can't say the mule is cheeky. The 
bantam cock is cheeky, but nobody thinks him impudent. 
Cheek means self-confidence, even when there is nothing to be 
confident about. I should like to make this matter quite plain 
for you, but I'm just the same now as you were at the meeting 
— labouring under great disadvantages through non-prepara- 
tion. I don't say cheek is good in itself, but it's a means to an 
end. It isn't so bad as humbug, and not so girlish as afi'ecta- 
tion. Many a good man has lived and died without the world's 
knowing anything about him, all because he wanted cheek; 



296 RHYS LEWIS, 



while many an one has got to the top of the tree with nothing 
but cheek to be thankful for. Cheek takes it for granted that 
you don't know anybody better than yourself, until you get 
Buflficient evidence. If you see a man of a retiring disposition, 
you may take your oath he won't get on in this world. He'll 
do very well in the next, I've no doubt, because the Almighty, 
doesn't He, puts some value on humility, knowing it to be a 
very rare article. But, this being the world we are in, and not 
the other, I hold cheek to be a thing to be cultivated— to a 
certain extent. You must remember that ninety-nine out of 
every hundred men are duffers ; and that in the majority of 
cases cheek'll stand instead of talent and knowledge. I don't 
mean to say, mind, that you have no talent— honour bright. 
Take a man with talent but no cheek, and a man with cheek 
but no talent, and I'd give three to one on the latter. Look at 
those two travellers who call yonder. There's Mr. Davies, 
long-headed, quiet, dresses the same, always, and understands 
the grocery trade to a T. He never tells lies, and will take a 
straight answer from father that he has no order to give. 
There's Mr. Hardcastle, ai^ain, with no more in his head than 
in a mouse's, but who has a new suit of clothes every three 
months, all pockets, cuffs, collars and rings, every bit of him, 
who won't take * No ' for an answer, and whom it is impossible 
to insult. He has learned some score or so of set phrases, half 
of them lies, before leaving home, all of which he reels off 
each time in exactly the same way. He is sure to get an order, 
simply because ho is cheeky and father's a duffer. D'ye know 
what ? "When the gaffer's away from home I give Mr. Davies 
a thundering good order, out of pity for him and because he's 
true to nature. As to Mr. Hardcastle, I could spit on that 
white waistcoat of his. After all, however, Mr. Hardcastle is 
the man for this world, the majority of shopkeepers being 
duffers. But that's the point: if you want to get on, you must 
cultivate cheek. Your talent and your knowledge will be 
worth nothing without. The Bible gives examples of this, if 
I remember rightly. I don't mind telling you I'm not much 
of an authority on the Bible, and so, if I am wrong, you'll 
correct me. Now isn't it admitted by the learned that John 
was a cleverer man than Peter ? But who was master ? Who 



RHYS LEWIS. 297 



was to the front in all things ? Just fancy Peter's cheek id 
stepping forward to preach at the very next Monthly Meeting, 
after that dirty trick of his, evei7hody knowing what he 
had done I That's the coolest bit of impudence I ever heard of, 
111 take my oath. If John had done anything half so shabby, 
he'd have been too much ashamed to open his mouth again ; and 
think of the loss that would have been ! There's the woman of 
Samaria again, who came and asked Christ to cure her eon, [I 
knew it was the woman of Canaan and her daughter Will 
had in view], she wouldn't be put ofiT, and, having plenty 
of cheek, she got what she wanted. D'ye know what ? 
I've thought that woman would have made a first rate commer- 
cial— she would never have left a shop without an order. 
Speaking in this impromptu fashion, I fear I can't make it clear 
enough what I mean by cheek. You must know you won't 
get along at all if you're nervous ; and for nervousness cheek 
is a perfect cure. To cultivate cheek observe the following 
rules : — Never blush. I have noticed when you happen to say 
something silly, or make a mistake, you redden up to the 
ears, like a girl. Never blush ; it isn't manly. If ever you 
blunder, look as if you had just said or done the best thing in 
the world, and nine out of every ten people will not know you 
have blundered at all. Cheek means keeping cool. At public 
meetings never sit by the door ; take care to be always in front ; 
and when you stand up do so on tip toe, because you're none 
too tall, more than myself. Make it a point to let everybody 
know you're present. Speak as often as you get the chance — 
oftener if you can ; and, so as to be prepared, take care to have 
some twenty or so of set phrases in stock which, with varia- 
tions, will do for any subject ; for fear you should have noth- 
ing new to say. Anyhow, be sure you speak. D'ye know 
what ? I've seen, before to-day, a dull man get upon his legs, 
say a good thing by sheer accident, and be set down by the 
duffers as a man of genius, on the spot. Before and after every 
public meeting, don't forget to shake hands warmly with the 
reporters, keeping up your dignity at the same time. You'll 
never lose by it. I've heard of some who report themselves ; 
but don't you do that— it isn't true to nature. I know very well 
what you're thinking of. This is merely the way of the world 



29S RHYS LEWIS. 



you'll say; but you'll see by and bye there's more of this sort 
of thing about religion than you've dreamt of. You're 
bound to find two things tell against you: in the first place 
your voice is not strong, and in the next, to my way of think- 
ing, you're never likely to grow stout ; it isn't in your family 
to fatten. You're sure to find leanness a disadvantage. Fancy 
a thin man saying something in a squeaky voice— a sort of 
falsetto as these musicians call it— and another great stout 
man, a reg'lar thorough bass, saying exactly the same thing in 

double F , which has the most effect on the duflfers ? I tell 

you that double F chap '11 be written down a great man, and 
the falsetto chap a snob. By the dufi'ers mind ; not by the 
wide-awakes. But I see I'm not sticking to my text, which is 
cheek. You know as well as I do, it is here the English beat 
us Welsh people hollow. You'll never hear an Englishman 
say he can't do this, that, and the other thing. To hear him 
talk, there's nothing on earth he can't do, and the duffers be- 
lieve him. You'll now and then find a John Jones, who's a 
real good sort, if he only knew it, touching his hat, and appear- 
ing to take pleasure in looking on at a John Bull eating his bread 
and cheese. What's the grand secret ? Cheek. Do you catch 
the point ? The man who's without cheek looks worse, while 
the cheeky man looks better than he really is. Don't think me 
inconsistent. I repeat it, I hate a humbug, and like a man 
who's true to nature. But there's a danger of the man who has 
no cheek looking less than he is. Nota bene : mind you have 
cheek, but mind also you have something else besides. Cheek 
comes in wonderful handy, and passes current with a great 
many people. But if you've nothing better, you're bound to 
be found out by the wide-awakes. At least, that's the opinion 
of yours truly. Eemember Lord Brougham's saying— 'What 
is the first secret of eloquence ? Preparation. What is the 
second ? Preparation. What is the third ? Preparation.' 
Never attempt to speak in public without preparation, until 
you've acquired cheek and learned a lot of set phrases which 
will do for any occasion— with a slight variation, as I've said. 
I'm not quite square with the guv'nor or I'd ask you over to 
supper to-night. Under the circumstances, therefore, I know I 
can't rise to the demands of ordinary etiquette. Cheer up, 
old boy, and don't look down in the mouth. So long I" 



RHYS LEWIS. 299 

Little did Will know, as was best for me, I bad bad a week's 
notice to prepare, and tbat bis words, instead of comforting, 
drove me furtber into tbe furnace. I was glad to get away 
from bim and go bome, little tbiuking tbat another furnace 
awaited me. My supper was on tbe table, and Abel sat smok- 
ing in bis arm-cbair— botb as if expecting me. Miss Hughes 
liad retired to rest, not being, as Will Bryan would say, up to 
tbe mark. I felt thankful, while eating, that Abel knew no- 
thing of my break-down, and uncomfortable, also, at the thought 
that be would be sure to get to know ; and tbat before long, 
too. Presently be began questioning me about the prayer 
meeting — who was at it, what sort of meeting we had, who bad 
taken part in it, and so on. I answered sparingly. From the 
half sarcastic smile upon his face, I guessed tbat some one had 
gone before me, and given him tbe ill news. 

♦*How did you get along with your discourse upon the 
chapter ? " he at length said. 

" Some one has told you," I replied, and, before I could say 
another word my feelings utterly overcame me and I burst 
into a good cry. 

"What's the matter with you?" asked Abel, when I bad 
come a little to myself. ** All I know is that David Davis in- 
vited you last week to prepare something for to-nigbt's meet- 
ing. What has happened ? Why're you so distressed ?" 

I gave him the particulars of my disastrous failure. " Never 
mind," he said, when he bad beard me out. "It may be a 
blessing to you as long as you live. I remember two lines of a 
doggerel English song : 

* There's many a dark and cloudy morning 
That turns out a sun-shiny day.' 

Tell me, do you think of preaching ?" 

"I have thought of it," I mournfully replied; "but I'll 
never think of it again." 

*• Don't be absurd," returned Abel. •' You never saw a good 
carter who had not at some time or other upset his trolly, per- 
haps hurt himself and the horse into the bargain. You and I 
got an occasional tumble before we learned to walk. You 



300 RHYS LEWIS. 



would never have know how to swim had you lost heart when 
your head first went under water. The first step in a useful 
life is often a false step, and the greatest success has often 
begun in failure. I had guessed for some time that you had 
set your mind on being a preacher ; which was the reason I 
gave you liberty to attend every service and meeting. And if 
I had not believed you, to some extent, adapted to the work, I 
would have spoken to you long before now. If you have set 
your mind on the ministry, let nothing hinder or dishearten 
you. It is not possible you could have thought on a better or 
more honourable calling. Were I permitted to begin life afresh, 
I think I should pray, night and day, that I might be inclined 
and made fit to become a preacher. To my mind, there is no 
circle of life like the preacher's, in which a man may be of 
so much real use. The very name has had a great charm for 
me ever since I can remember. It may be my weakness— but 
I prefer the name preacher to that of • parson,* or * minister,* 
or ' pastor.' To me the name preacher conveys the idea of a 
pulpit, of association meetings— powerful influences which sub- 
dued Wales ; and there is a sacredness about it of which the 
other names give no notion. Don't misunderstand me as to 
this. 'Minister' and 'Pastor' have their attractions; while 
the name ' Parson ' has a meaning into which a good deal of 
prejudice enters. It is of the association of ideas attached to 
the word preacher I'm talking. When Wales loses the mean- 
ing of the name * preacher' in that of ' clergyman,' woe unto 
her I I am not without fear that there is a move in such a 
direction in these days, and that it is traceable in small things, 
as for instance in our chapel announcements. When I was 
young, the deacon used to proclaim, * We expect Mr. 'Lias to 
preach here next Sabbath ;' but now you'll oftenesthear : ' The 
Eeverend Peter Smart will minister here next Sunday.' Don't 
misunderstand me, I say again. What I fear is that the reve- 
rence will be for the Eeverend and not for Peter Smart. Thank 
God ! there is no earthly title that can express the love and 
veneration of the Welshman's heart towards the true preacher. 
It borders almost on worship, and long may it continue so, as 
long as it is not sinful, say I. But the tribute is one which 
should be earned in the pulpit. You know there is no mora 



I^HYS LEWIS. 301 



\ 



ardent an adyocate than myself for giving a preacher the very 
best education. If all were of my way of thinking, nobody 
should be admitted to preach, in these enlightened days, who had 
not first undergone a course of college training, unless there was 
somethiog marked, indeed, about his natural talent and dis- 
position. But, spite all education, if the man is not a preacher, 
his M.A. is of no more use than that girl's education was who 
had been to a boarding school and came home having learned 
to say • Ma ' instead of Mother. The respect, the love, the 
half- worship which, as I have said, the Cymro has at heart for 
the preacher have been won naturally and deservedly. The 
other day I saw, in the newspaper, some self-opinionated crea- 
ture reproaching Wales with her respoct for preachers, ignor- 
ant, poor man, that he could pay the old country no higher 
compliment. I often fear lest our churches should permit any- 
one to preach who may offer himself, and that the respect paid 
the preacher should thereby become unsettled and ultimately 
lost. As I just now said, it would not be possible for you to 
think of a higher and more honourable calling than a preach- 
er's. The mere name is a sufficient introduction for its owner 
to the best people in the world, and a guarantee of pure and 
spotless character, or at any rat« ought to be. I have oftened 
puzzled myself to think what sort of consciousness may be the 
preacher's. It must be a glorified one. His duties are such as 
should accustom him to the highest form of happiness attainable 
here on earth, and they afford, also, the best preparation against 
the terrors of death and the spiritualization of the world to 
come. In this world he gets of the best that man has, and a 
great deal more ; and, upon his entrance to the world eternal, he 
will be welcomed by the King Himself as a good and faithful 
servant. To my mind, the most successful merchant is but a 
beggar in rags beside the true preacher, who is at once man's 
chiefest friend and God's next door neighbour, if I do not 
blaspheme by saying so. Where are the names of our rich 
carousers in castles, sixty years since ? Rotting, like their own 
bones and their dogs'. But the names of their contemporaries, 
who proclaimed the glad tidings, live on in the hearts even of 
those who never heard them ! 

•'That is one way of looking at the preacher. But there i» 



302 RHYS LEWIS, 



another. I do not want to frighten or discourage, only to sober 
you. Man's character is determined by his motives ; and possi- 
bly there is nothing man— thoughtful man more especially — 
feels so deficient in as the power of understanding his real 
motives. Every young man who thinks of preaching should 
fear and tremble. If not actuated by the purest motives, it 
were better he went and hung himself. I have had the deep- 
est sympathy with some men I have known who purposed, 
prepared for, and began preaching, but who were frightened 
into silence by the awful responsibility of the work. The man 
who has an eye to the pulpit, as a means of feeding his ambi- 
tion, of helping him to a post of honour, or of satisfying some 
craving of the heart to which he cannot give a name — that man 
shall have nought but God's frown. He will one day find 
himself lower than the devils and a subject of mockery for 
thieves and murderers. One of the English poets gives a 
dreadful description of that man's condition. It begins thus : 

* Among the accursed who sought a hiding place 
In vain from fierceness of Jehovah's rage. 
And from the hot displeasure of the Lamb — 
Most wretched and contemptible— most vile — 
Stood the false priest, and in his conscience felt, 
The fellest gnaw of the undying worm ! ' 

I have thought Paul must have experienced a sort of electric 
shock when he said, * Lest that by any means when I have 
preached to others I myself should be a castaway.' But, as I 
have said, I've no wish to frighten you into putting your 
intention to preach on one side ; rather would I be of help to 
you to proceed, if your motives are just. Perhaps it will be of 
advantage to you to inquire a little further into the history of 
the first preachers— the apostles. They were not perfect in 
their views and intentions any more than ourselves. But one 
thing characterised them which ought to characterise every 
preacher ; their love for, and fidelity to their Master was 
genuine — there was to be no doubt on that point. * To whom 
shall we go ? ' said Peter ; not to whom shall / go ? He 
Bpoke for them all, on that head — *Thou hast the words of 



RHYS LEWIS. 305 



eternal life ; ' without Tliee we shall bo without words, we 
shall have nothiug to say.* I don't know whether Peter was- 
conscious at the time that their business would be all * say ' 
directly ; only I shall continue to believe he felt at the time 
that there was nobody worth saying anything about but Christ. 
You take care you are right on that head. If it be some itch 
of selfishness which impels you to preach, the interest of that 
will soon burn itself out, and you'll find yourself left a cold 
lump living under the Churches' act of toleration, a burden to 
yourself and everybody else, fulfilling engagements in place* 
where they would rather have you than no preacher, or put up 
with a prayer meeting, and where they must pass the Sabbath 
somehow. But if you are moved by fire from Heaven, that fire 
will never go out ; and you will find sinners huddling about 
you for warmth for their shivering souls, and basking in the 
heat on your hearthstone. 1 know of no more pitiful being- 
than the preacher who lives on the sufferance of his fellow men, 
scorned of God for his worldliness and earthliness. Talking of 
worldliness : make up your mind at the outset, if you wish to 
become a preacher, to give yourself wholly up to the work. 
Never think of keeping shop at the same time. As preacher, 
the stock you must look after is too large to give you time to- 
look after another stock of an entirely different kind. All I 
can do for you, I will. Although I am not poor, you know I 
am not rich ; but perhaps 1 may be able to do something for 
you in the way of money ; for money you must have. I am 
astonished, very often, at the little our rich folk do towards the 
support of our young preachers, who, as a rule, are badly off. 
I have often thought how difficult it must be for a student, 
although he may have a large and a warm heart — how difficult 
it must be for him to get along with an empty pocket, and how 
useful he would frequently find a ten pound note from one of 
the wealthy. When the poor student is given a trifle, the fact 
must needs be proclaimed throughout the length and breadth 
of the country by the Monthly Meeting, and he is branded as a 
beggar by his friends forthwith. Anything of that kind is 
simply scandalous. No wonder that here and there a really 
deserving youth— and it is the most deserving who always do 
BO— should bear his hardship in silence rather than see hia 



304 RHYS LEWIS. 



name blazoned abroad by the papers as the recipient of fixe 
pounds. I hope and believe that you do not expect to find 
preaching a paying business, in a worldly sense. If you do, 
you'll be disappointed. There are a thousand better ways of 
making money. You often hear that preachers are avaricious. 
The charge is a shameiul libel, to my mind ; and is made, 
almost without exception, by those who are money-grubbers 
themselves. Most of the preachers I have known, who depend 
on preaching for their livelihood, lead a hand to mouth 
existence. True, there is a special Providence watching over 
the mo6t deserving amongst them, who are permitted, by God, 
to find favour in the hearts of rich young women. Watch and 
pray against idleness and self. You know — I don't— whether 
self had anything to do with your failure at to-night's meeting; 
and whether it was winning or proclaiming praise that found 
first place in your heart." 

Strange I Abel understood me internally almost as well as 
I did myself. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

MORE OF WILL BRYAN. 

Will Bryan's worldly-wise observations and Abel Hughes's 
serious and encouraging counsels drove me, I shall believe, to 
the place I ought to have oftener been in daily. My resolution, 
at the time, was to relinquish, for ever, the idea of preaching ; 
and I prayed much to be rid of the desire ; although I feared 
in my heart I should be heard. I felt as if I were two difi'erent 
personages— one anxious to preach, and the other doing his 
best to prevent and dishearten him. I believed that the 
latter was right ; and yet my sympathy lay with the former, 
who I constantly hoped would win the day. In course of time, 
I might possibly have overcome the one inclination, had David 
Davis given me rest ; but rest I should not have. I was pretty 
certain that I had not the slightest hankering after my old habits 



RHYS LEWIS. 305 



of evil. I felt that my chief enemy was self. Abel Hughes 
haviug first cautioned me against it, I found this enemy with a 
l^nuer in everything I did. I was on the point of determining 
i.fcver to do anything publicly in the cause of religion until I 
had, by concentrating all my attention upon myself, intros- 

pcctively, destroyed self, and then . When I announced 

my intention to David Davis, he came near laughing ; but, as 
if suddenly remembering he was a stranger to the habit, he 
substituted a broad grin, and said: — 

"Excellent intention; but the most selfish one you could 
have devised. You won't be a bit the better, twenty years to 
come, from that plan. How are you to get at self by doing 
nothing ? It is by the performance of your duties alone that 
you can lay hold of self, and bring his neck to the block. If 
you go wasting precious time in the search for him, he is sure 
to slink into hiding somewhere. It is not by retreating within 
yourself you can kill self — he must be crucified without the 
camp. And do not wonder if you find self alive even when 
you get to be my age. I have heaid of people, down in 
England, who deal in what they call legerdemain. With 
their left hand they can lay hold of themselves by the hair, 
while with the right they will take up a sword and cut their 
own head off— that is to say, to all appearance— and next 
minute another head comes in its place. When the story was 
first told me I reflected that that was just what I had been 
doing with self. Some days I fancied I had his head fairly on 
the block, and had cut it 'snug off,' as Evan Harries of MerthjT 
used to say. But on the morrow, self would be as much alive 
as ever. Talk of doing nothing until you have killed self! 
Why, you'll never work a stroke if you wait till then. Self 
won't take to be killed by any child's play. I have, however, 
thought it possible to scotch him, and the best way to do that 
is to forget him, neglect him, and devote yourself, body and 
soul, to God's service, by doing good. And one must learn to 
do good, as Isaiah says. That is not a thing you can do in a 
day, to your own satisfaction, to say nothing of God's. The 
first thing the Gospel does is to apprentice a man to well-doing. 
And I'll tell you what — it is "prentices we always shall 
remain in this old world; we shall never be masters of the 
u 



3o6 RHYS LEWIS, 



business, nor freed from our apprenticesliip till we cross over 
to the next. Besides, life is so short, look you, that we must 
apply ourselves at once to learn, lest we appear awkward, and 
as those who are not out of their time, when we get amongst 
the tradesmen. I, too, often doubt my motives — who does 
not ?— but, when I can't rise to higher ground, what I do is to 
try my hand at a little good, just to spite the devil, and show 
him that, who and whatever I may be, I want none of his ac- 
quaintance." 

With much other discourse did he counsel me; and I 
think I was benefitted thereby. Whilst taking part in a public 
meeting the reflection that I did not do so on my own initiative, 
nor without inducement from brethren of proved judgment 
and piety allayed my fears not a little ; it seemed to place a 
share of the responsibility upon their shoulders. To my no 
small consolation I had no further ''breakdown," to quote Will 
Bryan, like the one in Thomas Bartley's house, although it 
went hard enough upon me many times. The little facility of 
speech I acquired at prayer meeting became a source of great 
comfort to me, and I would often catch myself humming 
a tune on coming away. There was nothing sinful, I 
thought, in a silent rejoicing of spirit when David Davis 
or someone else gave me a word of encouragement or of 
praise. I remembered noticing, repeatedly, those preachers in 
Abel Hughes's house, who, if they had had a brilliant meeting, 
almost invariably enjoyed their supper, and vice versa; the 
reason possibly being a consciousness that they had earned 
the meal, and again vice versa. By degrees I came to 
understand that I was pretty generally regarded as a '• candi- 
date ;" a fact which, when I realised it, had at first the efi'ect 
upon my mind of a bridle which everj'body was entitled to 
seize. If I happened to stay out late, I felt that the first man 
I met had a right to say : * What do you want out, this time of 
night ?' When laughing, I asked myself, on the instant, did I 
think I had laughed too loudly ?' If I chanced to speak to a 
young woman— which I must plead guilty to having done, 
occasionally— I felt as if some one was always watching me, 
and measuring with a two-foot rule my face and smile. In 
short, I thought I had lost all personal liberty. I had no 



I^HYS LEWIS. 307 



longer the right enjoyed by others of shaking my head and re- 
fusing to step up, when called upon, to officiate at a prayer 
meeting. I dared not say "I -would rather not," whatsoever 
duty the Sunday School superintendent ordered me to do. In a 
word, I lost the sense of self-ownership, and felt transformed 
into a piece of public property. Small and great, dwarf and 
giant, considered it their bounden duty to ply me with advice, 
which they varied endlessly, and which they, doubtless, gave 
with the very best intentions. Such was the interest, appar- 
ently, taken in me, and such the multitude of counsellors, that 
I at last expected everybody I met to be ready with a piece of 
his mind. And it was not often the expectation was dis:^ppoint- 
ed. Some said that if I meant to begin preaching, I should 
take it easy, and go slowly ; others that I should hurry and 
lose no time about it. Some advised me to set to work reading, 
late and early, and not waste my time going about; others 
thought I should read less and go more out into the open air, if 
I wished to live long and become of use. Here and there an 
one would exhort me to get myself well posted in literature, 
politics, general knowledge, and every new book I could lay 
hold of, all this being indispensable to the present-day preach- 
er ; while others advised me to let all such things alone, and to 
give my whole time to a study of the Scriptures, adding that 
the young preachers' great fault was a want of acquaintance 
with the Bible, and the giving of too much time to other books. 
" "WTiatever you do," said one to me, ** don't go to college to be 
spoiled, like the rest of them." " Of course," said another, 
" you'll be bound to go to college, or you'll never be worth 
anything. Even if you learnt nothing there, people would 
think more of you for having been." *' Be sure you're free and 
easy with everybody," said one of the brethren; *'I hate a 
Btuck-up preacher." •' I hope, if they permit you to preach, 
you will remember to keep a watch upon yourself; be reserved 
and don't give people room to talk," said an ancient sister to 
me. 

One night, after mentioning to "W. B. the different kinds of 
good advice I had received, that personage said: **Use your 
common sense, man, if you have any common sense about you ; 
and if you havn't, why, give up the idea of preaching at once. 



3o8 RHYS LEWIS. 



I don't mind telling you, you'll be obliged, directly, to mind 
your p's and q's, and look after your centre of grayity. But 
then, you needn't behave as if you were shut up in a clock-case. 
There's no use your showing like a rooster stepping through 
the snow. A thing of that sort isn't true to nature; and 111 
never believe grace goes against nature— that is, sinless nature. 
I should think there must be averse on the subject somewhere, 
only I can't remember it just now. * Trust in God and keep 
your powder dry,' old Cromwell used to say, and he was no 
duffer. If you try to act upon everybody's advice you'll have 
to work overtime every day, and it'll be Hie jacet, and * Alas 
poor Yorick ' with you directly. I always tell the duffers to go 
to Jericho ; only it won't pay you to do that. You must be 
civil to all, try and spot the wide-awakes, and take their 
tips." 

I thought there was a good deal of sense in Will's opinion, 
delivered though it was in a style peculiarly his own. I re- 
mained a long while a " candidate" before my case was form- 
ally laid before the church ; chiefly because that was my de- 
sire. I was but young, and I was anxious for a fair proof of 
myself and to furnish proof to others, so that there should be 
no mistake on either side for which we should afterwards be 
sorry. I had another object in view, to wit, the escape from the 
necessity of preaching a trial sermon in the Society. I knew 
it to bo the general rule with candidates for the ministry to 
give a sermon in the Society, to show what they were able to 
do. I considered this method of testing a young man's capa- 
city and fitness the most unnatural and unfair that could be 
devised, and was certain in my own mind I could not undergo 
it. 1 often pictured myself in the condition of one who 
attempts to preach to a congregation composed exclusively of 
critics; preaching not to edification, but to show how much 
ability I possessed. I knew I could not act; and I would 
rather remain another year in my present condition than be 
put to such a proof. There were plenty of opportunities —tbet e 
are plenty of opportunities still— for a young man to show the 
church and neighbourhood whether he is adapted for the 
ministry without placing him in any such unfair and disad- 
vantageous a position as this one. Another reason for my 



RHYS LEWIS. 309 



delay was a real desire to ascertaiu, with certainty, the purity 
of my motives, and my consecration to the work. I remem- 
bered hearing Abel Hughes speak of some, who having been 
plagued with the ** preaching fit," were subsequently complete- 
ly cured of their complaint. 1 feared lest it was a ** fit " I had 
on, and argued with myself, that if this were so, it would soon 
pass over. I had, also, a not very easily definable feeling, from 
which I am not even yet wholly free, namely, a deep desire for 
a visible and decisive proof of the particular truths which per- 
plexed me— a proof, likely enough, it was impossible I could 
get, or, possible, would have made vain ray faith. How to 
account for it I do not know, but I often find in myself a yearn- 
ing after the impossible. Months passed by, but the "fit" 
did not. Every opportunity T found of speaking to preachers 
whom I could make free with I availed myself of, in order to 
draw from them all the knowledge obtainable of their ex- 
perience and state of feeling when in my situation. It was but 
very little, however, they were able to tell me of the ordeal 
their minds had gone through that I myself had not experienced 
already. And yet, I persistently believed they had met with 
something I had not, if they could only describe it. I whetted 
my imagination in the conjuring up of terrors probably, 
in store for me were I self-deceived. In fancy I put myself in 
such a fiery situation, that not even hell, I think, would have 
been ashamed of it as its own creation. The utmost I could say — 
and I could say that— was that as far as I knew, I was moved 
by no false intentions. I thought it quite possible I might be 
m:iking a mistake and be displaying a want of judgment in 
thinking of the ministry ; but I was certain I had no unworthy 
object that I was aware of. I will not attempt to deny that I 
was constantly conjecturing what would people think of me; 
and I often asked myself the question which the Greatest ask- 
ed of others— ' Whom do men say that I am?' As one who 
had set his mind on preaching, and who did a little in that way 
without a license, I was conscious of not appearing to many in 
as favourable a light as I could. I knew several who held that 
he who revealed a desire to preach should have a soul of fire, a 
large expeiience, and an ardour which gave an air of attraction 
to everything he said. It was useless to expect this of me. The 



3IO RHYS LEWIS. 



recollection of my youth disqualified mo from giving advice. I 
also called to mind a remark of Abel Hughes' : ** I never like 
to hear a young man over much at counselling and talking to a 
mixed congregation, as if he were an experienced elder. It is 
wholly unnatural, in my opinion ; and I question whether any 
good is done by it. I prefer seeing a young man preacher half 
drowning to seeing him paddling by the bank. To hear a 
youth of twenty imitating an old man grates as harshly on me 
as if I were to hear an old man of eighty squabbling over a 
game of marbles. And yet you'll see things quite as incon- 
gruous as that sometimes; it is a sign of weakness in either 
case." 

I knew very well my addresses at meetings in the houses and 
small chapels of the neighbourhood were dry and didactic — 
more so than they should have been, owing to the fetters I had 
forged for myself. On occasions when I was fairly filled with 
zeal, I made every effort to cool down, lest I should appear self- 
assertive, and that which I was not. A deep impression was 
made upon my mind once by seeing a young preacher go about 
confabulating with the friends. Coming to old Betty Kenrick, 
he said: "Well, old sister, do you think you know Jesus 
Christ by this time ?" To which Betty answered : " I hope I 
do, and have done, long before your father was born, young 
sprig." I do not commend Betty for answering, in that way, 
a young man who was a stranger to her ; but the incident was, 
for all that, not without its moral. I rather fancy that parti- 
cular youn<r man's clothes did not fit him quite so tightly at the 
end of the Society as at the beginning. I felt some degree of 
pleasure in assisting the friends in small country chapels when 
they were without a preacher ; but when David Davis told me, 
one day, he wished to bring my case formally before the church 
as a candidate for the ministry, I was filled with despondency 
and dismay. In one sense I would have preferred backing out; 
only, at the same time, I could not bear the notion. It was 
evident I could not always continue in my present condition. 
If I permitted my cause to be brought forward, I felt I should 
be aiming high, placing myself in a different position to the 
rest of the church, and taking upon me a responsibility which 
I dreaded. Frequently I fancied a voice saying : • What 



RHYS LEWIS. 311 



hast thou to do to declare my statutes ?' I sighed for clear 
vision, but it would not come ; and I asked myself what reason 
had I to give for seeking to preach when I could not definitely 
prove my calling ? 

On the Dther hand, as I have said, I could not hear the 
notion of relinquishing my incentives to the work and sup- 
pressing my most pleasing sensations. I did not understand 
myself— a fact which I thought strange. How did others 
understand me ? Was it possible that other people could form 
a clearer estimate of me than I could of myself? I resolved 
that events should take their course. In a few days my cause 
was brought before the church. I do not purpose giving a 
minute description of the occurrence. A great many questions 
were asked me which I replied to just as 1 thought and felt, 
without attempting to place myself in a different light from the 
real one, or to affect more than I could in truth perform. I was 
told to withdraw while the brethren were canvassing my 
merits. "Whilst waiting for the verdict I feared my answers must 
have made some people think I was not over clear in the head. 
I hardly expected my application would be favourably enter- 
tained ; and I almost wished it would not be. Presently I was 
called in, and notified that it had been agreed to refer my case 
to the Monthly Meeting with a request that some of the 
brethren be deputed to inquire into the matter and take the 
voice of the church thereon. Well was it for me that there waa 
no need of a word in reply ; for, had there been, I could not 
have spoken it. I found myself in a turmoil of thought, some 
part of which I would try to reproduce had not something 
happened which remains livelier in the memory— something I 
can never forget— and which is all the easier to relate because 
it has reference to another. 

It is pctssible I may have spoken too much of Will Bryan. I 
shall not make much further mention of him. As I have said, 
more than once, the acquaintance between us deeply influenced 
my life. His personality had impressed me greatly, from child- 
hood up. Although some sort of a church member, I knew 
and others knew as well, that he was not by condition of mint, 
and natural inclination what he ought to be. I feared his 
heart was sadly indifferent to religion, and at one time 



312 RHYS LEWIS, 

determined to sever my connection with him, for good ; only 1 
found that to be a more difficult task than I had imagined. 
His magnanimous spirit, his open heart, his shrewdness, and 
especially his sharp, ready tongue, renewed my admiration for 
him every time we spoke, and made me forget, for the moment, 
his failings, numerous though they were. Although he made 
no profession of the fact, I could not help perceiving his fond- 
ness for me ; and I was certain no one living felt a greater 
interest in my welfare than he. I had noticed of late, with 
giief, that Will halted more than ever in his attendance at 
chapel ; what was true of him being true also of his parents. 
But this, notwithstanding, my old companion was at the 
Society when my case was brought on ; and glad was I to see 
him there, chietiy, I will admit, because I knew I should get 
from him a detailed account of every word that transpired after 
I was sent out. Naturally enough, I had a curiosity to learn 
what was said of me in my absence, and I knew Will could 
supply me with the whole. I have endeavoured to transmit to 
paper all I have considered worth recording of Will's utter- 
ances, as nearly as I could, both in form and substance, to the 
way in which they left his lips. That I shall try to do once 
more. When we left the Society I think it was I who, for 
once, was waiting for Will, and not Will for me. 

" Just the thing," said he. ** I wanted a chat with you." 
'* I knew, Will, you would tell me all that took place," I 
returned. "How did things come off after I was turned out?" 
" A vej'hatim et literatim report would do you no good in the 
world," he observed. ** The only thing that tickled my fancy 
a bit was Old Scraper insisting that you should be asked to 
preach before the Society, so that they might see the sort of 
stuff there was in you, and Abel answering him that the plan 
would work admirably had you happened to be newly come 
from America, and no one knew anything about you. I can 
think of nothing else worth the mention, except that that 
old thorough bred, Thomas Bartley, when the hands went up on 
your side, raised both his own— just like Whitefield in the 
picture— as an apology, I thought, for the unavoidable absence 
of Barbara Bartley, owing to a severe attack of rheumatism. 
But let that be. You have to-night reached a point I have 



RHYS LEU IS. 315 



a long while looked forward to. All you now want is to ga 
on. My conscience to-night ia a little easier than it has been 
for some time. I know very well it was I who threw you off 
the metals. I dreamt the night we came near hanging Jone» 
that your mother had come from the next world to rebuke me. 
She frowned upon me, and I shall never forget that look of 
her's. I was never happy afterwards, although I tried to appear 
differently, until I had found you on the rails once more. You 
and I to-night are at a junction I bad all along known we'd be 
safe to come to. We have travelled a good way together, but 
I have known from the first we were not bound for the 
same destination; and here's the junction, you see. I speak a 
trifle figuratively, but you know very well what I mean, I dare 
say. The fact of the matter is, we must now bid good-bye, as 
the song says, to those 

'Dear happy hours that can return no more.' 

I am for making myself scarce, and you may never see m© 
again— a thought which brings a lump to my throat, I'll take 
oatb Have you beard anything about us over yonder? " 

'• Heard what, Will? I don't understand you," I replied. 

*' It is all U P over there," rejoined Will. •' Everybody'll 
know it before the week is out, and I can't stand that. Didn't 
I tell you futher was a dufi'er ? I remember the time I used to 
think he was coining money, and was a clever man at a 
bargain. But when I got to know what was what, and how 
things stood, my verdict was — duffer. I've seen this, for some 
time ; but there was no use talking of a change of policy— it was 
in the old rut father would walk. Like a certain other creature 
we wot of— more noted for the length of his ears than for the 
sweetness of his voice — he'd insist on crossing a clover field and 
make straight for the bed ire to browse on thistles, dock-leaves, 
coltsfoot, and rubbish like that. What is the consequence? 
"SVhy others have gobbled up the clover, and there's nothing leit, 
even on the hedge— not as much as a Eobin Eedbreast's cast off 
nest, or a finch's. And what's the outlook ? Liquidation by 
arrangement and starvation ! And I am going to take my hook^ 
in consequence. Wheie to ? I don't know. What am I going 
to do ? There's the rub ! I shall come of age next week 



314 J^HYS LEWIS. 

(D.V.), and I shall be just as well off then as I was twenty- 
one years back to date. You know I've not had much more 
eehooling than you have had, and yet I sometimes fancy I'm 
not a perfect greenhorn. When I got to be wise enough to see 
my loss, I made it a point of keeping a close watch of human 
nature, or as the Wesleys say, the nature human. It's about 
the best thing one who has not had much schooling can do. 
But I made one great mistake— I didn't study my bread and 
cheese. What can I say I am ? I'm neither gentleman nor 
tailor. I have not been enough behind the counter to learn to 
serve— I was never much inclined that way, my delight, as you 
know, being to drive a horse. I did not care whether it was a 
load of bread or a load of young girls, as long as I had a horse 
to drive; and I can handle the ribbons with any man, whoever 
he may be. But next week, Hugh Bryan, provision dealer, 
won't have a horse to drive. And there's such a difference be- 
tween driving your own horse and driving somebody else's I 
Do you imagine I'd ever become a geutleman's servant ? 
Never ; if I had to break stones first. That's the meanest job 
I know of. My stomach would never stand taking pay for 
keeping hand to hat everlastingly, and for lending my legs to 
show off my master's cashmere. Well, what am I to do ? How 
am I to earn my bread and cheese ? The question is span new 
to me, and I don't know how to answer it. I needn't tell you 
how I was brought up—in want of nothing save grace and 
good advice. I never remember the day I didn't have a jolly 
dinner. But how'll it be next week ? D'ye know — I was 
never really down in the mouth before. 

♦* Will," said I; "you've nearly taken my breath away. 
How have things got to this ?" 

•' It's too long a story," he replied. " I don't want to be 
hard on the gaffer — I'm sorry from my heart for him, I swear. 
But it was all his own fault. If he had only stuck to his own 
business, things would have been all right. You know the old 
man was always grasping. Well, after he had made a bit of 
money, some one persuaded him to speculate. I begged him, a 
year ago, to drop it ; but no good. Fifty pounds a month, my 
little man I How was it possible he could stand it ? Had he 
taught me how to get a living I should not have minded so 



RHYS LEWIS. 315 

much. It's a queer idea, but I've often thought, of late that 
if I had happened to be my own father I'd have brought 
myself up much better. People may possibly think me selfish 
for skedaddling, but I can't stand the disgrace. And there is 
Suze, poor girl ! I couldn't look her in the face. It's lucky 
there's been nothing definite between us. I must be going. 
Something urges me." 

*' You've given me a shock, Will; " said I. " Many a time 
have your help and sympathy been very precious to me. But 
I never remember the occasion, before to-night, when you 
wanted sympathy yourself. Will you take one piece of advice 
from me?" 

" What is that, old fellow ? " 

''Whenever you go, and wherever you go to, will you take 
care to get a ticket of membership ? And, after you are settled 
in your new home, will you enquire for the chapel and send on 
your ticket to the deacons ? I may as well tell you the honest 
truth, Will, I have a fear you'll go wrong." 

**I had hoped," he replied, "that you wouldn't have 
mentioned this; but since you've done so, I, too, must say 
something which has been on my mind this long time. It 
would take me a day to tell you all. For me to ask for a ticket 
would be only humbug. I have dissembled a great deal too 
much already. You fancy, I dare say, you know my history 
pretty well ; but you know nothing. I can't conceal the fact 
from myself that there isn't the least spark of religion about 
me. Do you remember your mother saying there was an *' old 
man " in my heart, and I making fun of her ? The old 
woman was perfectly right. What she meant, as you know, 
was depravity; only she had a rather odd name for it. I don't 
know how to tell you the story of my mind, and I would much 
rather not try. I feel, somehow, as if I were gospel-proof; and 
I've not been able now, for some time, to remember a single 
verse that doesn't tell against me. Lots of them come to mind, 
now and then. To tell you the truth, I have not read the 
Bible since I don't know when— because, as often as I did bo, 
those verses which were against me were the ones I always 
spotted. I'm but young, and yet I feel as if I'd stolen a 
march on the Gospel ; or I ought perhaps to say, as if I had 



3i6 RHYS LEWIS. 



been left behind. Haye I killed anybody ? No danger. Have 
I wronged anybody ? I don't know that I haye. Haye I got 
drunk ? Never. But a chap needn't do any of those things to 
be left behind. What have I done? Lots of little things: 
learned comic songs instead of learning the Bible and the 
"Instructor;" gone to the billiard table oftener than to the 
Lord's ; poked fun at everybody and everything, and parodied 
the hymns of Williams of Pantycelyn. In the chapel, when a 
preacher came near bowling me out, I would stick to my bat ; 
and by this time all the sermons are * wides.' I feared any- 
body should see a tear in my eye; and, when one would be just 
on the point of coming, I would call myself to account and 
order it back. Not a tear has wanted to come now for some 
time. The fault, perhaps, may not be all mine. I was'nt 
brought up as you were. Father would make me go to chapel 
on the Sunday ; but there would be no more talk of chapel, or 
of religion either, afterwards ; only hemming and hawing and 
rowing, every day. Father did with me as you've seen Ned the 
blacksmith do with the iron. On the Sunday, in driving me to 
chapel, he'd put my conscience in the fire, and on the Monday 
he'd dip it into the water-trough ; with the result that it has 
become as hard as a horse-shoo." 

" Will, " I began. 

"Don't interrupt," he commanded. " I know what you're 
going to say — repentance, a fresh start, and so forth. I know 
all those things. I do not want to know now, but to feel. A 
man can't repent in the same way that he signs the pledge. 
There must be a change of heart, as "The Mother's Gift" says. 
The Bible speaks of someone who hadn't the chance of repent- 
ing— that is one of the verses against me, and there are lots of 
them. The worst of it is, I do not, somehow, feel as if I 
wanted to repent. I feel a sort of weight beneath me urging 
me along, as if I was being carried by a crowd of people, and 
couldn't help myself, although I knew all the time I was going 
to the wrong place. Your mother, fair play for her, gave me 
many a piece of advice; and I remember once you were 
almost offended with me for calling her ' Old Ten Command- 
ments.' But what I meant by that was that she was always 
telling me what I ou»ht to do. And so she was. Don't do 



I^HYS LEWI^. 317 



this thing, do that, was what she always had for me. I knew 
at the time the old woman was quite light and resolved to do 
as she told me, after I had had my fling. But I took too much 
fling, and I can't return. Tm past feeling, I fear — nothing in 
the world afl'ects me. I am only a youngster, but I feel old in 
audacity and obduracy. Only fancy ! So young ! I feel 
almost as Wolsey did—* Had I seiTed my God,' &c.— you know 
the words. I'm out of heart and tired of myself ; but yet I'm 
not repentant. I feel remorse, but no repentance — if I under- 
stand what repentance is." 

•• Will bach," 1 remonstrated ; " you forget that God is " 

"0, don't talk!" he broke in. "You can't tell me anything 
new. 1 know what you're about to say— that God is merciful ; 
that I should pray to Him, and so on. But I have tried to do it, 
on the sly, and felt every time I was only sponging. Do you 
know what my belief is ? That I have offended God for ever 
by those parodies of old Pantycelyn's hymns, for I'll take my 
oath the Almighty and old Pant are great chums, and He'll 
never forgive me for what I've done. But let's drop it. Good 
night." 

Ke pressed my hand and hurried off before I could say a 
word. I determined, nevertheless, to see him on the morrow, 
with a view of giving another direction to his mind. Early 
next morning, however, a lad in Hugh Bryan's service brought 
me a note, addressed *'Eev. Ehys Lewis," which, on opening, 
I found to read : 

•' Dear old fellow.— 

Exit W. B. As the old song says,— 
It may be for years, 
And it may be for ever. 

Keep along the path on which you have started, and profit 
by the example of 

Yours truly. 

P.S.—l have snatched the honour of first addressing you ai 
Eevd., trusting that vou will always well sustain the title. — 
W. B." 



3i8 J^UVS LEWIS. 



CHAPTER XXXIY. 

THOMAS BARTLEY ON A COLLEGIATE EDUCATION. 

What is the indispensable requisite of friendship ? All simi- 
larity of pursuit. Birds of a feather flock together. Does the 
fact that two people are friends always presuppose that they 
are of like dispositions if not ideas ? Not always, I imagine. 
When neither ideas nor inclinations are alike in the friends, 
in what does their friendship consist? Mutual admiration 
cannot account for it, for there may be admiration without 
friendship, and friendship without admiration. I have known 
one friend laugh at another who could not bear anybody else 
to do so. Does friendship consist of some prerogative enjoyed, 
as lord-paramount, by the heart independently of any instinct 
of the soul ? I do not know. I know this— that Will Bryan 
and myself were similar neither in dispositions nor ideas ; and 
yet when he made his •* exit," as he called it, my heart gave a 
turn, and I shed internal tears. Until then I did not know we 
were so close knit. I felt the effects of the unwinding for 
months. Will's departure left a great void in my heart, as I 
fear it will leave in this history, where he does not come 
under notice again for some time. His prophecy with respect 
to his father was fulfilled within the week ; but I have nothing 
to do with that event. I got not a word from my old friend 
after he left, which I took to be a bad sign, for I remembered 
hearing him one day remark that, if he happened to leave home, 
none of his companions should hear from him unless he had 
good news to send, or something to relate equal in interest to 
the capture of a wild elephant or a fight with a tiger. 

Man tires of much talk about himself ; and I do not think 
anyone would undertake to write an autobiography except on 
consideration that others whom he came in contact with would 
figure largely in the work. Of greatest interest to me has that 
been which I have learned from observing other people's ex- 
cellences and defects. In the life of the ordinary young preach- 
er there is a good deal of sameness ; his history this week will 



RHYS LEWIS. 319 



be his history the next, and few are the circumstances of which 
a desciiption would be specially interesting to anybody but him- 
self. And yet, as I said in the first chapter of this history, the 
occurrences of a commonplace life are so commonplace that 
no one has thought it worth his while to reduce them to writ- 
ing. There are thousands of verses and popular sayings which 
accurately reflect the feelings and experiences of the common 
people. They are neither poetical nor " inspired," and no one 
knows their authors. Some one composed even the expressions 
" Good Morning " and '' Good Night." But who ? There is 
nothing '* inspired " in these and the like, their only distinction 
being the universality of sentiment they convey. And yet they 
are immortal ! We, the common people, use the same words 
and phrases every day in a thousand different places and cir- 
cumstances, without tiring of them or dreaming of accusing each 
other of being trite. If the weather happen to be genial, how 
many thousand tongues are there ready to say it is "fine," 
and do say so as if it were the most original remark ever made ? 
The same man will say it is *' fine" twenty times in the day, 
the last time with as much emphasis as the first. I almost be- 
lieve it is the commonest things that possess the most real 
and lasting interest. The hale man never tires of the loaf 
which is on the table three or four times a day, while there is 
reason to think a *' club feast," even once a week, would sur- 
feit him. 

Although nothing particular, as the saying is, happened for 
some time in my history after that which I have noted in the 
previous chapter that could not be said to have happened in the 
life of nearly every young preacher, and although I am now 
skipping a whole year of my life, I cannot see that a minute 
account of the period would be uninteresting, if I could only 
summon up courage to describe every day events, and provided 
the description were '* true to nature," as W. B. expressed it. 
Talking of courage, you must have courage to call a spade a 
spade. The misfortune is that everybody should be conscious 
everybody else knows— or ought to know — the spade's name, 
and it is, therefore, never mentioned. Has not every young 
Calvinistic Methodist preacher lost some hours' sleep in fear 
and trembling at the thought of the night on which the twa 



320 RHYS LEWIS. 



emissaries of the Monthly Meeting are to come over to pump 
and cross-question him ? And was he never disappointed after 
the event ? Were not his examiners much less formidable than 
he had in his mind portrayed them, and their questions much 
easier to answer than he had feared ? How did he feel after 
preaching his first sermon ? Was it not as if he had drained 
himself dry, and would never be equal to another. Did he not 
find that the sermon in delivery was a very different thing from 
what it was on paper ? Did he not discover here and theie a 
hole and hiatus in it of the existence of which he was not 
aware before he came to deliver it ? In preaching, has ho not 
been painfully conscious that his sermon became thinner to- 
wards the end, and concluded raggedly and abruptly:' Many 
a Sabbath night, in his bedroom, has he not felt small and humi- 
liated at the notion of how much more he had thought of those 
who would admire than of those who would believe him ? Has 
he not fallen in his own estimation when his congregation 
was but the night and God ? Has he not, hundreds of times, 
despaired of reaching that most enviable stage at which he can 
exclude every selfish consideration and sink himself in one all- 
absorbing desire to serve God and benefit his fellow- men ? Did 
he not at one time feel over- much delicacy in permitting cer- 
tain matter-of-fact things— the tithe for instance— to have a 
place in his calculations ? And did he not find himself one day 
familiarised with the taking of such things into account ? Has 
he not been often astonished to think how much he is like other 
people who have not professed as he has ? What idea had he 
of the Monthly Meeting before becoming personally acquainted 
therewith ? Did he find that ancient institution the hallowed 
one he had expected? He knew, of course, that everybody 
present was either preacher or deacon ; but did he not form 
some foolish notion that they were almost as the angels? More 
closely acquainted with them, has he not marvelled how like 
they were to other folk, and especially himself? Has he not come 
to regard the occasion as on one which he made the discovery 
that they actually ate and drank like other people— to say the 
least ? That some could laugh quite heartily ? That others 
could converse in whispers while one of the brethren was at 
%rayer at commencement or conclusion of service ? Aye, haa 



RHYS LEWIS. 321 



he not seen some "who lost their tempers ? He had been in the 

habit of thinking highly, had he not, of as wondrously 

spiritual and devotional P Did he think quite so highly of him 
on finding that he stayed in the chapel-house for a smoke until 
the brother finished the prayer which commences meeting? 
Eeturuing from service, was he not on better terms with him- 
self; did he not console himself with the reflection, " We were 
all made from the same clay; we all of us have our weak- 
nesses? " What is his experience in respect of the members of 
the Monthly Meeting ? Has he not found that the ablest and 
holiest were his best and truest friends, and those who did 
most in his behalf ? Were they not the little ones in Christ 
who were least faithful to, and most discouraged, him ? When 
he preached to the county ministers, were not they he feared 
most those who were most considerate and cheering ; and 
those whom he feared least the most patronising and con- 
temptuous ? In going about to preach, Sunday after Sunday, 
has he not been more than once dismayed to find himself so 
cooled down as to be able to do the work mechanically ? Was 
he not disappointed to find that preaching did not kill his own 
ein ? Has the sacred calling never placed new temptations in 
his path and roused some natural tendencies which had tiU 
then lain dormant ? Has he not often feared that his preach- 
ing produced effects which were more beneficial to other people 
than to himself? Has he not frequently observed that he was 
not so sanctified and spotless as he 5;new some people took him 
to be ? And has he not thanked God a hundred times that his 
hearers did not know his state of mind and heart as well as he 
himself did ? Having ascertained that some had thought 
too highly of him, has he taken the pains to undeceive 
them ? Haviug found that others held the same opinion 
of him that he did of himself, has he not been angry 
with them ? Has he not regarded those whom he knew to 
think well of him as men of penetration and ability; and 
those who have thought differently as wanting in judgment? 
After a flat and unprofitable Sabbath, has he never determined 
to preach no more ? And after a happy one, has he not 
rejoiced that he did not give his resolution effect? Despite the 
painful sense of selfishness and depravity which has occasioned 



322 RHYS LEWIS. 



him 80 much anguish, do not the hints he sometimes gets that 
he has been of good afford him a pleasure he can neither 
value nor describe ? Has he not been able, on occasion, to 
say: " Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the 
time that their corn and their wine increased." These are but 
ordinary factors in every young preacher's experience, and a 
chapter could be written on each of them ; but who has ever 
done so ? They are of such common occurrence, as already 
stated, that nobody has thought them worth the setting down 
in writing. I had intended once to describe them in detail, but 
I see from the size of this autobiography that I, too, like my 
predecessors, will be obliged to leave the work to someone else. 
I had preached almost regularly every Sunday for about 
eighteen months, had been received a member of the Monthly 
Meeting and had passed the examination for admission into 
college. I was perfectly well aware that I did not "shine," 
as the saying is ; but my conscience was easy that I had done 
my best. Although my poor old mother, in her day, considered 
she had done well by giving me **a whole twelvemonth's" 
schooling, I felt I had to fight almost every step with greater 
vigour, diligence and assiduity, on account of my not having 
received in early youth much more instruction than the cane of 
Soldier Robin was able to impart. And yet I was encouraged 
to go on by the kindness of friends, particularly of my njoster, 
Abel Hughes. So backward did I find myself that I dreaded 
mixing among young men of good education, and I am cei tain 
I should not have dreamt of going to college if Abel had not 
kept that constantly as a goal before my mind, and urged me 
forward. I came out of the examination about the middle of 
the class, and after that it was useless to think of turning back. 
I had but little money by me, having spent nearly all my 
earnings on books and clothes. I depended for the necessary 
college supply on the promise made me by Abel Hughes, and 
trusted wholly that my master would, silently and unostenta- 
tiously, help me. He was my bosom friend, and had repeatedly 
renewed his promise to me in confidential converse. I knew 
he had not mentioned his good intentions towards me even to 
his own sister. When he did a kindness, his delicacy and his 
respect for the feelings of the receiver were so great that I often 



J^HYS LEWIS. 323 



fancied he would like to have been able to conceal his charitv 
even from himself. I noticed, many times, that in handing 
an aim to a beggar he would talk of something else, as if 
endeavouring to divert his own attention and the recipient's 
from what he was doing with his hand. I remember well one 
night in August, about a fortnight before the time I meant to 
go to College, I was preparing for the journey, and feeling a 
little fidgetty, never having been more than two nights 
together from home in all my life. I had just shut shop, and 
my master Abel was sitting on the sofa near the parlour 
window. He seemed fatigued, sad, and languid. He at once 
began to talk of my going to college. Seeing me put my hat 
on, he asked me where I was bound for, and I replied I had 
promised to call on Thomas Bartley. 

" "Will you be long ? " he asked. 

*'I don't think I shall be,'* was my response, with the 
addition : •• What is it, sir ? Would you like me to stay in ? " 

*' Not on any account," he rejoined. '* But I do not feel like 
myself at all to-night, somehow." 

*' I'll stay," I observed. " I can go to the Tump to-morrow 
night." 

Abel, however, insisted I should not. "There isn't much 
the matter with me," he went on. "I'll be better directly, and 
I expect Marg'ret in every minute. Thomas Bartley, doubt- 
less, will be waiting you." 

As I was going through the doorway he called after me. 
*'Wait a minute; one never knows what may happen," he 
said, opening a cupboard close by, taking out his cashbox, un- 
locking it, and drawing from it one or two bank notes, which 
he suddenly replaced, with the observation: "What is the 
matter with me ? Am I getting childish, or what ? Isn't there a 
fortnight yet ? Away you go ; never mind me, and make haste 
back." 

On the road to the Tump I could not help thinking there was 
something strange in Abel's demeanour that night, and I 
resolved to return soon, in consequence. But once under the 
Bartley roof-tree it was no easy matter to come away quickly. 
To do so without taking supper was, I immediately saw, 
altogether out of the question; for hardly had I sat down 



324 RHYS LEWIS. 



before Thomas threw a threatening glance at the ham on the 
ceiling. His best welcome alwaj^s was a ham-and-egg tea, and 
a prince's need not have been better. Amongst many others I 
remember the following observations of Thomas Bartley, made 
in the course of that visit. 

*' Mighty nourishin' food, look you, ham and eggs is, if you 
have the right quality. I wouldn't give a fig for a cart load of this 
American stuff. How can you tell what they fatten their pigs 
on, poor critters ? I don't know how these town's folk venter 
to eat eggs. D'ye know what I heard my cousin Ned say he'd 
seen with his own eyes once in quite a 'spectable house in 
Liverpool ? This is his story : at breakfast time the maid 
would bring in about a dozen boiled eggs, and place 'em on the 
table. And there would the family go breakin' one after 
another and smellin' 'em, and the girl carryin' 'em back as fast 
as she could, until at last, p'raps, they might find two or three 
out of the dozen fit to eat. But the odd thing was, they 
thought nothing about it— they did the same every day. Well, 
fie to their hearts, say I. Barbara, let's have them eggs 
on the middle shelf, between the plates there, right opposite 
you ; yes, that's them. Those was laid to-day— they're the 
game hens'. So you've made up your mind to go to Bala, 
then ? D'ye know what ? We'll be very sorry to miss you, 
won't we Barbara ? " 

Barbara nodded. 

*' Yes ; to be shwar. I've never been to Bala nor anywhere 
else up north; and I don't know nobody there, either, 'cept the 
two men as comes here fair days, sellin' stockings about the 
streets ; and decent men enough they are. I'd like awful to go 
to Bala, for once in my life, if it was only to see the lake 
the man walked over after it was frozen. It was a fearful time, 
that. When he found out what he had done he died on the 
spot. I heard James Pulford recite a poem to Bala once, 
composed by Eobin Ddu. I don't remeaiber it, though. 
* Bala went, and Bala'U go '—something like that it began — 
you'll hear it, I dare say, when you get there. I rec'lect father 
Bayin' of a thing which was quite safe that it was right as Bala 
bell. Jest you take notice of it when you get there. D'ye 
know what ? if we hear of a cheap excursion Babara and 1 



RHYS LEWIS. 325 



wouldn't mind one awl-tip comin' to look you up. You wish 
we would, eh ? I know very well you'd like to see us. Pitch 
into it, lad ; I don't see you eat much ; you've a hundred 
welcomes, as you know. Are there many at Bala larnin' to 
preach ? What is it you say ? They don't larn to preach 
there? 0! well, indeed, say so; 'cause I've hard some of 
'em who came down here, and I found nothing extra about 
'em — to my taste. I'd rather hear William Hughes of Aber- 
cwmnant nor the best of 'em. But then, I ain't much of a 
judge. Well, what in the blessed world do they larn there if 
they don't larn to preach ? " 

*' Languages, Thomas Bartley," I replied. 

*• Haha ! what languages ? tell us." 

" Latin and Greek," said I. 

** Hoho ! I see it now ! Fear they'll have to go missionaries 
and so that they might be able to preach to the Blacks, ain't 
it ? Proper, indeed. You don't want to go out to the Blacks, 
do you ? I thought not. Can you tell me what's the reason 
so few of 'em goes to India to preach to the Blacks after they've 
larnt the languages in college ? They tell me there's scores of 
Blacks there as never hard a word about Jesus. That's an 
awful pity. They may's well not larn the languages if they 
don't preach in 'em. I might's well not go 'prentice to a shoe- 
maker if I didn't think of makin' shoes afterwards. You 
haven't finished, surely ? Take another cup of tea, man. 
Well, it's your own fault. But it's of the languages I was 
talking — what did you call 'em ? To be shwar, Latin and 
Greek— the language of the Blacks, isn't it ? " 

** No, Thomas ; Latin and Greek are not the language of the 
Blacks," I answered. 

*' Whose language, then ? " he asked. 

"Oh, the languages of old people who've been dead for 
centuries," responded I. 

"Dead men's languages! What in the blessed world do you 
want to larn the languages of dead folk for ? Is it makin' 
fun of me you are, say, like your brother Bob used to ? " 

"I am telling you the honest tinith, Thomas," I replied. 
"The languages are learnt for their own sakes and for the 
treasures they contain." 



326 RHYS LEWIS. 



"Well, if I never took another hop a-hoeing, this is the 
queerest thing I've hard of ! I had always thought a language 
was somethin' to be spoken. Tell me, which is the Black's 
language? They must, surely, larn that, or they can't go 
missionaries." 

**The language of the Blacks is not taught in college, 
Thomas Bartley. The missionaries must go to the Blacks 
themselves to learn that," said I, 

** Well, if ever I hard such a thing with my ears before ! 
Larnin' the languages of people who are dead and not larn- 
in' the languages of people who are alive ! But since we've 
begun talkin* of the thing, what else do they larn, tell me ? '* 
he went on. 

"They learn mathematics," I returned. 

*' Matthew Mattiss ! and what may that be ? " 

"How to measure and weigh and make all sorts of calcula- 
tions, and things of that sort," said I. 

*' A handy thing enough," remarked Thomas. "That's the 
reason, I s'pose, why so many preachers turn farmers and 
shopkeepers. Do they larn anything else there ? " 

*' English language and history," I replied. 

" Proper," observed Thomas. " If a man doesn't know a bit 
of English in these days he's bound to be left behind. And 
history is an interestin' thing enough. One of the best I ever 
heard at it was James Pulford the tailor. When I used to go 
to public houses I doated on that man. There's nothin' better 
I like in a sermon than a bit of history. When Barbara and 
I've forgotten everythin' else, we'll have a pretty fair grip of 
the story the preacher's told. But, for all that, I don't find 
those college boys any great shakes at tellin' a story. William 
Hughes, of Abercwmnant, beats 'em flyin'. D'ye know what ? 
William, last time he was here, told a story of a little girl 
dyin' which I shan't forget's long as there's breath in me. If 
I was to drop dead on the spot I couldn't help cryin' while he 
was tellin' it. I'm glad in my heart they larn history in college ; 
only some of'm are dreadful long a larnin.' There was a lad 
of a preacher here lately who had been three years in college so 
they said ; but I couldn't for the life of me make head nor tail 
of him. He spoke of some * mechanism/ ' unity,' or something 



RHYS LEWIS. 327 



"which I couldn't make top nor bottom of. But, tell me— I 
almost forgot, and I knew I had eomethin* to ask you— what 
Bort of livin' do they get there? Pretty good, I should 
think." 

" They don't provide for any one, Thomas. Each must pro- 
vide for himself," replied I. 

*' But how in the world do the boys get along? Are they 
*lowed so much a week to live on ?" he asked. 

" Oh, no," said I. "Every one has to find his own food, 
drink, lodging and washing. They're permitted to go about 
preaching, and on the little they get for that they live." 

" Never '11 1 go to Caerwys fair again, if that college isn't 
the rummest place /'ve hard talk of!" observed Thomas. 
"The boys, you say, don't larn to preach there; they don't 
larn the language of the Blacks, only the language of some 
old people's bin dead for cent'ries ; they don't get any pay, 
everybody livin' on his own hook, starve or not ; and the only 
thing worth talkin' of they do larn is History and that other 

thing— what did you call it ? Matthew ? to be shwar, 

Matthew Mattis. What in the wide world do you want to go 
there for, say ? Do they larn anythin* about Jesus Christ 
there ? I didn't hear you mention it." 

"Doubtless they do, Thomas," replied I; "but the place is 
almost as strange to me as it is to you." 

" Most the pity. If 1 were you I'd go a month on trial and 
take my food with me. D'ye know what? It's just this 
minute struck me that every one I've seen comin' here from 
college preachin' looked half starved; and it's not a bit of 
wonder after what you've told me 'bout the way they manage 
there. The longer he lives, the more a man hears, the more he 
perceives. I always thought the college an uncommon nice 
place, though I used to wonder why all the boys, poor things, 
looked so pale and dispirited. I fancied they were only a bit 
nervous, like a witness in the box, and that if I was to see 'em 
on the Monday mornin' I'd find 'em all right, p'r'aps. But 
they must have bin gettin' better livin' there at one time, 
'cause I remember, when a lad, happ'nin' to go to chapel; and 
who should be preachin' but John Jones, of Llanllyfni — it waa 
in college he was at thnt time, I should fancy— and his two 



328 RHYS LEWIS. 



cheeks was like the rose. Tell us : if you didn't happen to 
have a call to preach for a month or two after goin' to college, 
what'd become of you ? " 

" Well," I replied, ♦* I must trust to Providence," 
** I never saw good in that story," rejoined Thomas. ** God 
helps those as helps themselves. There was a man livin' in 
this neighbourhood a while since — before your time— and he 
was a bit of a believer too— the most careless man about his own 
affairs I ever saw, an4 he was always talkin' of trust in Provi- 
dence. But do yow know where he died ? In Holywell work- 
house, poor fellow! In a manner of speakin', I almost wish 
you hadn't told me the kind of place that college is; 'cause 
after you've gone there, Barbara and I'll be always thinkin' 
whether you get enough to eat or not. I see you leavin' a 
good place and venterin* into the upper country where they 
lives hard— as the stockin'ers used to tell me. For my part I 
don't see the game is worth the candle. I wouldn't ha' cared 
so much if they only larnt to preach there. But you know 
what'st best for yourself, and it isn't my business to interfeie. 
If your mother was alive, though, I doubt if she'd 'low you to 
go. What does Abel say ? Is he for your goin' ?" 
*' Oh yes," I replied. " Abel is anxious I should." 
" Well, I'll give in to him. He's a reg'lar caution, Abel is. 
I never knew him make a mistake," observed Thomas. 

" Mentioning Abel, Thomas Bartley," I returned, ** makes 
me think it is time for me to go. Abel is not over well to- 
night, and I promised to be back soon." 

'* Sorry to hear it," Thomas said. *' Hope it's nothin*" 
serious. I don't know what'd become of us in that, chapel if 
somethin' was to happen to the old sarja majar. We should be 
all higgledy-piggledy. D'ye know what ? When your mother 
waa alive it was as good's a sermon to hear those two talk. 
They never spoke of * mechanism' and things of that sort, only 
of Jesus Christ, and heaven ; and I a-takin' of it all in, like a 
sow in the barley. I would' nt a tired of them the whole night 
long, and I hated to see Abel get up to go, for I felt as if I. 
hadn't had half enough. Do you know what I used to do ? I 
hope it was no sin, but whenever I saw Abel coinin' I turned, 
back the clock-hand half an hour. 'Twouldu't have done for 



RHYS LEWIS. S29 



your mother to catch me, she was so guzzact in things of that 
sort, you know. Well, I won't keep you, since Abel's out of 
Borts. Remember us both to him. Good night! Stay! 
here you are, as long's you're determined to go to college, 
take a piece of this flitch of bacon and welcome. We shall 
have quite enough left. Well, well; it's your own fault if 
you don't. You know you're a hundred times welcome. Good 
night." 

I was glad to get away, to enjoy a roar, as Will Bryan used 
to say. If Will had been there, I thought, what a splendid 
account he would have given of my chat with the *'old 
thoroughbred Thomas Bartley," as he called him ! A hundred 
reminiscences came to mind, as I hurried along homewards, of 
the way in which Bob was able to smooth the wrinkles in 
mother's serious, care-worn face, after a visit paid to Thomas 
Bartley's house to *' draw him out." Bob could mimic the old 
shoemaker to the life; and I know him making mother angry 
with herself, because she had been compelled to laugh in her 
own despite. It may bo that thoro are moments in the life of 
every man when he seems domortcd. Had I been photograph- 
ed that night, swiftly striding past the Hall Park, my face 
would have presented a strange look, as 1 laughed and cried, 
alternately. Thinking the matter over, now, I am surprised 
to find that Thomas Bartley had so much to do with thepiinci- 
pal events of my life. But little did I imagine at the moment 
of my return from the Tump 1 should ever have to recall that 
night save as a means of amusement for my companions. 

I had left the Corner Shop barely an hour and a half, and 
was within a few yards of it on my return, when I met Jones, 
who had been searching for me, everywhere save at the Tump. 
He told me Abel was dreadfully ill. What else he may have 
said I never knew, for the next minute I was in my dear old 
master's room. I shall never forgive myself for leaving him 
that night. I found him reclining on the sofa whore I had loft 
him when I went out. Sitting on a chair by his sido waa 
Doctor Bennett, or, as we called him, the works' doctor, behind 
whom, at the head of the sofa, was Miss Hughes making des- 
perate efforts to hide her heart-beats. The scene is vividly 



330 RHYS LEWIS. 



present to my mind ; how can I forget it % With her left arm, 
wliicli seemed tenderness itself embodied, Miss Hughes support- 
ed the patriarchal head of the only man she had ever loved with 
all lier lieart, while her right hand held a glass containing some 
kind of cordial which her brother refused to, or rather could 
not, take. I think there were two other women in the room, 
but I do not remember who they were. Until then, I would 
not have believed it possible a man could undergo such a 
change in so short a time without being externally assailed. 
The "fine old fellow," as Will Bryan called him, liad sunk, 
one lielpless inert mass, his glory all departed, like some 
mighty tower whose foundations had been struck by light- 
ning. The face, beaming with reason, intelligence and amia- 
bility but two hours since, was now like that of an imbecile in 
his cups. The tongue, which never once spoke aught that was 
not sensible and instructive, had now forgotten its office, and 
there came nothing from the lips of its owner save some in- 
articulate sound like the stridulous notes of the deaf-mute. His 
right arm excepted, my master's body was completely paralysed. 
L had been in the room some minutes before he took any notice 
of me. When he saw me he was visibly agitated, and began to 
cry like a child. Pointing to me, and then to the cupboard, 
he tried hard to speak. I knew well enough what he meant, 
but took upon me not to understand him. Again and again 
did he endeavour to make his wishes clear. The doctor asked 
me if I could tell what he wanted, and I said— well, I said that 
which was not true, namely, that I did not know. It was 
manifest to all in the room that Abel wished to say something 
to me. I knew perfectly well what it was. But, supposing I 
had told the doctor and Miss Hughes it was my master's wish 
that I should be given some of those bank notes from the cash 
box, would they not have contradicted me ? I was certain, 
however— as certain as that I am writing the words at this 
moment— that that was his one and only wish. I believed he 
still retained his iiitellectual faculties unimpaired, but that the 
media through which, for five and seventy years, they had 
made themselves known, had refused obedience any longer. 
Time and again he tried to talk to mo and, failing, broke into 
tears. The doctor told me I had better leave the room, since it 



RHYS LEWIS. 331 



■was clear mv presence disturbed the sufferer. But I respect- 
fully declined. I had left him, once, when I ought not, and I 
was not going to do so again. It was hard, indeed, on me. 
My heart bled with pity for the best, tenderest, godliest man I 
had ever known. It was in my power to set his mind at rest 
by revealing his desire ; and it was most important to me per- 
eonally that I should do so, for my future, to a great extent, 
depended upon it. But I dared not do this without throwing 
suspicion upon my motives. Silently and earnestly I prayed 
that my master might have strength to speak ; but everj 
minute, as it were, bore him farther away, and diminished our 
hope of his ever again being able to commune with us. With 
much trouble we got him to bed, where every possible means 
were used to restore him, but without avail. As I said, he had 
not wholly lost the use of his right arm. I sat by the bedside, 
my hand in his. He lay for hours, as if in happy sleep, only, 
when I tried to withdraw my hand, he turned uneasily. The 
doctor, saying he might remain in that state for days, went 
away, promising to return in the morning. Miss Hughes, 
who was persuaded to retire to rest, seeing she could do no- 
thing for her brother, had procured an experienced nurse to 
Btay up with me to watch the sick man. The weather was 
warm, the place still, and presently the *' experienced nurse" 
fell fast asleep. Dr. Bennett had not the slightest hope of my 
dear old master's recovery; neither, any longer, had I, al- 
though I earnestly prayed God— not with any selfish purpose 
— that his tongue might be loosened, were it only for a minute. 
"Was I heard ? If I said yes, who would believe me ? I had 
been watching an hour, for two hours, and the " experienced 
nurse " sleeping for exactly the same space of time. The 
breathings of my beloved old benefactor were so light and soft, 
that I feared he had passed. I gently let go his hand. He awoke, 
peacefully as a child in its cot, looked at me, and said— well, I 
never repeated those few words to any living soul ; because I 
thought Doctor Bennett might pronounce the thing impos- 
sible, or that I had been dreaming; while others might say I 
had a selfish motive in telling the story ; and others that the 
whole was but animal magnetism. It matters not in the least, 
by this time. I know this much — I made no use of his words 



332 RHYS LEWIS. 



to gain my own ends ; but I treasure them up in my heart as a 
remembrance of how true he was to me in his last moments. 
A minute later his spirit had crossed the great gulf. And in 
the whole annals of Death, I believe there never entered its 
dark portal a more just, more faithful, or more perfect man^ 
but One. 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

TROUBLOUS. 

In the storm which felled the grand old oak, whose roots 
spread wide and deep, the encompassing earth was rent, and 
other oaks, for a distance round, were rendered less secure. 
Those nearest the prostrate one felt most the shock of its down- 
fall; some of them being so deeply barked that summer breezes^ 
rain, and dew, and heat could never heal their scars. The 
death of Abel Hughes deprived the town of one who had 
carried conviction to the hearts of loafing " corner men," and 
even worse characters, that he was a good man. The tradesmen 
lost from their midst an example of one who could deal with 
the world without lying, and at the same time earn a liveli- 
hood honestly and without stint. Let us hope he was not the 
last of those old-fashioned people ! But it was to the chapel and 
the cause that the loss was greatest. The inhabitants could not 
think of Methodism without Abel. Eightly had witling Seth 
called the chapel Abel's chapel, and, when he fell, themembera 
felt as if their sanctuary had lost its inward life. There were 
not a dozen belonging to the church who could remember the 
Big Seat without Abel in it. The majority had repeated their 
verses to him in the Children's Society, and been received 
by him into full membership. The atfairs, temporal and 
spiritual, of nearly every family connected with the church 
were known to Abel ; and there was hardly a Methodist house 
in the town that he had not been in, by someone's bedside with 
counsel and with prayer. Old men and women on the parish, 
like others higher stationed, could pour their woes in Abel's 



RHYS LEWIS. 333 



€ar, confident that their secrets would neyer be divulged. For 
many years lie had acted as pastor to the church, with this 
distinct advantage, that he could tell the truth in public and in 
private, fearless of dismissal or visible falling off in the col- 
lections. The truth will stand ; but how many of us are ready 
to stand by the truth without trying to trim it after our own 
particular fashion ? ** And they knew that they were naked." 
Possessed of truths which we are certain should be spoken, are 
we not apt to dress them up in our own aprons ? On the other 
hand, men are met with, boastful of their honesty, their fond- 
ness for telling the truth and plain speaking; but who display 
an impertinence and a rudeness which make the sensible regard 
their bluntness of speech as the outcome of ignorance and bad 
manners. Truth is a knife, in the estimation of people like 
these, and "the truth that kills" is their only truth. Some 
churches, even unto this day, keep their religious butcher and 
executioner. The former's chief delight is in cutting up his 
co-religionist into four quarters and a head, and exhibiting him 
upon his stall; the latter likes to hang him at once, and have 
done with it. Speaking metaphorically, Abel could wield a 
knife, but not the butcher's. He used it, not to take away life, 
but to spare it. Once he believed there was danger, he never 
dilly-dallied. He brought home to the patient's mind the un- 
speakable value of his soul's health, and that to save it he must 
undergo the severest operation. And, as a rule, those who had 
been longest under his hands were his warmest, fastest friends. 
I think it was the common experience of those who were bred 
in the church that, as children, they considered Abel Hughes 
too sharp, precise and severe ; but that, as they gathered age 
and sense, their estimate of him softened. In their childhood 
he seemed a sort of sour green crab, which set their teeth on 
edge ; grown up, they came to regard him as a great, round 
apple— yellow, ripe and sweet in the mouth. It was not often, 
as Thomas Bartley said, that Abel made a mistake. Many a 
time have I seen several church members ardent and deter- 
miued concerning this thing and that, but directly they got to 
know Abel differed from them, they began to doubt — not Abel, 
but themselves. Often, in the Society, have I known John 
Lloyd rise to his feet and dilate hotly upon some complaint or 



334 HHYS LEWIS. 



other. Ygu might think from his speech that religion had died 
out of the land, and that certain persons in the church, whom 
he did not name, had been guilty of every form of wickedness 
conceivable. Abel would thereupon get up and, with some 
dozen soothing words, would clear the air and still the ferment. 
He would then walk straight up to old Betty Kenrick or 
Thomas Bartley to ask an experience ; and two minutes later 
everybody had forgotten all about John Lloyd and his lecture. 
Will Bryan detested John Lloyd, and nothing pleased him 
better than to see Abel give his enemy a ** sitting on," as he 
used to call it. " Did ye spot how Abel put out Old Scraper'a 
bonfire by spitting on it ? " Will would sometimes ask me in 
the Society. ♦' That was the smartest bit of work I've seen, 
for I can't tell how long, I'll take my oath." Abel had an awl 
of his own which never failed to flatten out a blustering, pre- 
tentious wind-bag. He never spoke of it aftewards, but I often 
thought that a feat of this kind afforded him a little secret 
pleasure ; for, in his corner by the fire at home, a smile of 
satisfaction would spread across his face, as if he were enjoying 
a good thing all to himself. He was strict, as I have said. He 
could not tolerate a harum-scarum religionist; but what- 
ever a man's shortcomings and defects might be, he always 
sympathised with him deeply. I have mentioned, in a previous 
chapter, that I never saw his like at reading the human heart. 
He had studied his own for an age, and I heard him say, several 
times, it was the most deceitful of all things. He was able, on 
that account, to understand and guide the young man fighting 
against temptation and doubt. He could feel for the toiling and 
the troubled, make allowiince for the raw and inexperienced, 
who had any good in them, and participate in the spiritual joy 
and sorrow of the old and tried. But idleness, carelessness, 
hypocrisy and cant he found unbearable, always. I had 
better advantages than anyone else, almost, for knowing him 
thoroughly. To me he never once appeared to pride himself 
upon his own virtues ; but when he saw those virtues shine, 
even in a less degree, in others, his face fairly beamed with 
pleasure. He had set himself so high a standard of conduct 
that his failings were kept continually in view; and he regarded 
with envy some people who, to my mind, did not deserve com- 



RHYS LEWIS, 335 



parison with himself. His sincerity and force of character gave 
him an authority in the church which no one either dared or 
desired to question. 

I must acknowledge it was not these reflections which filled 
my mind when Abel died ; but others much less disinterested. 
I saw that I had lost my most precious friend, at a time 
when my future, humanly speaking, was almost entirely 
dependent upon him. I am ashamed to think how selfish I 
was. For the moment, I feared all my prospects blighted. I 
remember well feeling astonished and hurt to find no one 
sympathising with me. Jfiverybody talked of the loss it would 
be to the cause, and all the sympathy ran towards Misa 
Hughes. " Poor Miss Hughes ! " " What'U Miss Hughes do 
now?" " Miss Hughes, poor thing, will be left alone in the 
world, now she has lost her brother." "Who will Miss 
Hughes get to look after the business ? There's that boy, 
there, going to college ; it would be much fitter for him to stay 
at home to help Miss Hughes, if he has any feeliug in him." 
*' Surely, Ehys Lewis won't think of leaving Miss Hughes in 
her present trouble. He ought to be ashamed of himself if he 
does." That was how people talked. All thought of Miss 
Hughes and, as far as I was aware, no one thought of Ehys 
Lewis. Why? Because no one knew it was Abel's chief 
desire that I should go to college. He had never told a living 
soul, save me, that I should not want a single penny as 
long as I was away and that I was always to consider the 
Corner Shop my home. I realised my loss m all its bitterness, 
and felt myself unfriended and alone. I knew I was selfish, 
but I could not help it. I saw all my plans upset, and thou-ht 
that nothing remained for me but to abandon my intention of 
going to college and settle down to business once more. Simul- 
taneously there came to mind Abel's injunction not to think of 
keeping shop and preaching; and I thought I should be bound 
to give up the preaching also. My heart sank within me. I 
had not an atom of taste, nay, I had a positive dislike, for 
business. This was not my fault, I fancied. It was Abel 
Hughes who had led me into it; had created in me a hatred 
of trade, and disposed my mind to other things. For a 
considerable time before his death he allowed me the widest 



336 RHYS LEWIS. 



liberty. I was asked to do but next to nothing in the 
shop, if he saw I was diligent with my books and was not 
idling. But now, I feared all the trouble he had taken 
with me had been in vain, and that all my own efforts had gone 
with the wind. The more I thought of all this the more I com- 
miserated myself, the less ready was I to become reconciled to 
my fate. As described in a preyious chapter. Miss Hughes had 
been remarkably kind towards me, even during my mischievous 
period, and my indebtedness to her was great. She was a 
fiimple, innocent old soul, who resembled her brother in no- 
thing save in kindness and fidelity. She took no interest in 
the questions Abel and I used to discuss, and I wondered many 
times to think how little she comprehended those matters of 
which the knowledge had made her brother noted. To her 
there was no difference between preacher and preacher ; they 
were all good, and she had as much respect for the least of them 
as for the greatest. She read a chapter of the Bible in her bed- 
room every night without fail ; and then went peacefully to 
sleep. I do not know that she e-ver read anything else except 
on the Sabbath, when she took up Y Drysorfa* opening it at 
random and nodding over it, directly. She knew next to no- 
thing about the business and, I feared, but little about her 
brother's circumstances, either. But for all that, she was a 
good woman, who filled the sphere of life she was called into 
excellently well. She kept the house clean and beautiful, and 
her hospitality to all whom Abel brought beneath his roof was 
cordial and sincere. Abel's sudden death was a heavy blow to her, 
and one which, apparently, excited not only my own but others' 
deepest sympathy, for "many came to comfort her concern- 
ing her brother." In view of the number of our visitors— well- 
intentioned people, no doubt — I think I did wisely in calling 
in a sensible woman to look after Miss Hughes, and prevent 
her from being killed with kindness. One of the things which 
affords me the greatest consolation at the present moment is, 
that I myself carried out the funeral arrangements to the satis- 
faction of all, without consulting anybody save David Davis. 



• "The Treasury"— a conaexional publication of the "Welsh Calviaistic 
Methodists.— Translatob. 



RHYS LEWIS. 337 

No ; not so, either. I marvel ■svhen I think of the state of 
dreamy absent-mindedness I was in at the time. In every- 
thing I did, I felt my dear old master at my side, and I seemed 
to be doing it all according to his command. On the sad day 
vfQ buried him, and when I was conscious of, rather than 
saw, the crowd of people that came together, I remember 
wondering into how small a gap they put poor Abel, and how 
large the one, which never could be filled, that he had left 
behind. "When David Davis and I were returning from the 
churchyard, I fancied hearing my old master addressing us 
with a " Thank you, Ehys; thank you, David. Ye did well." 
To which we replied, " "We have only done that which it was 
our duty to do by thee." 

David Davis accompanied me back to the house, and we both 
went into the kitchen, there being "of women some" with 
Miss Hughes in the parlour. If these lines are ever read, I 
dare say I shall be deemed foolish for noting such trifles. I 
had hoped David would sit in Abel's old arm chair; but instead 
of doing so he took the chair he usually sat on when Abel was 
alive. The old chair was empty, and beside it, on the wide 
hob, lay the pipe, exactly in the spot it was left four days ago. 
Neither David nor I spoke a word, but I knew we both 
appeared as if constantly expecting Abel to come in. How 
difficult it is to realise the departure, nevermore to return, of 
one who has for years been a part of your life ! After talking 
over one thing and another, David presently asked me what I 
intended to do ? Did I consider it wise, under the circum- 
stances, to go to college ? I said I was not prepared to answer. 

''No one would blame you, now, as things have happened," 
he went on, " if you did not go to Bala— Abel taken suddenly 
away, Miss Hughes left all alone, and knowing nothing 
about the business. Indeed, everybody would think the more 
of you if you were not to go. '^''hat if you were to wait 
another year, to see how things turn out? " 

He spoke feelingly and persuasively ; but his words stabbed 
me to the heart. "What, thought I, David Davis exhort me 
not to go to college I I was hurt, and said to him, a little 
excitedly, " David Davis, if I don't go to college now I never 
shall. If I find, after taking time to consider the matter, that 

Y 



338 RHYS LEWIS. 



it is my duty to stay here, I shall bid an eternal good-bye to 
preaching; if otherwise, nothing will prevent my going. 
But to-night I do not clearly see what my duty is, and I do not 
choose to discuss the subject." 

** Pray for light, then," returned David, rising to go. But 
before he left I took him to the parlour to Miss Hughes, whoso 
friends, with the exception of the *' sensible woman," had by 
this time gone. I had held but little converse with her since 
her brother's death. In her affliction she left everything to me. 
"When I attempted to consult with her, " You know best," was 
the only answer I got. Naturally enough, she began to cry 
immediately on our entrance, and for some time was not able 
to say a word. I followed her example, for, of a truths 
although selfish, I was not hard-hearted. 

*' David Davis," she presently observed, *' hasn't Ehys done 
well ? I always did like him— he kuows that himself. When 
he came here first he was very wicked, and Abel was so strict. 
I used to take his part, as he knows. You won't leave me to 
go to that old college, will you, Ehys ? " 

David answered for me, for which I was very thankful : 
''You'll talk of that another time. Miss Hughes," and after 
adding a few consolatory words, he went away. 

I felt very wretched that night. For some hours I sat by the 
fire in a reverie. The old clock had stopped, and no one had 
thought of setting it going again. I feared Providence clearly- 
meant me not to go to college, and consequently not to preach. 
Abel Hughes had told me, more than once, that no young man, 
in these enlightened days, should think of the ministry without 
first spending some years at college ; and I fancied, then, it 
was almost impossible Abel could err in judgment. I reflected 
that if I stayed with Miss Hughes the whole care of the 
business would devolve upon me ; Jones being merely a kind 
of useful fixture. All my time must be devoted to the shop, so 
that reading and sermon-making would be utterly out of the 
question. On the other hand, if I went to college, how was I 
to get the means of subsistence ? I could not hope to win 
prizes. Those would be taken by the well-to-do, properly « 
supported young men who had received a good education in 
early life. I had heard that some of the boys were able to live 



RHYS LEWIS. 339 



oa yery little at Bala, and 1 thought I should like to show my- 
self able to live on less than any of them. With the exception 
of a few shillings lying loose in my pocket, all the money I 
owned was in my purse. How much had I ? Taking my 
purse out, I emptied it into my hand and placed it upon the 
table. I counted my money carefully: six pounds in gold, ten 
and sixpence in silver, I remember well. I was gazing at the 
coin as it rested in the palm of my right hand, when T heard 
Miss Hughes and her companion coming along the passage to 
bid me " good-night" before going to bed. I hurriedly thrust 
my wealth into my pocket and brushed the purse aside, lest 
they should discover how earthly my contemplations were. A 
few minutes later, the house was perfectly quiet, and I again 
fell to racking my brains with reference to my situation, and 
vexing myself by thinking how completely my circumstances 
and plans for the future had changed in less than a week. I 
did not know how long I remained in this state. I was sure it 
must be late at night, because the stir in the streets had 
ceased, and nothing was to be heard save someone passing 
slowly around the corner of the house. I thought it was the 
policeman. The same step sounded three or four times over. I 
knew I could not sleep if I went to bed ; I had got to feel so 
uneasy and sick at heart. Fancying a mouthful of fresh air 
would do me good, I slipped out quietly, carefully locking the 
door behind me. It was a lovely moonlit night, with a nice 
light breeze blowing, although it was not cold. The details of 
the occasion are still vividly present in my memory. Deep 
silence reigned in the streets, as if all their dwellers were dead. 
I turned down one street and up another, just as if I had a 
particular destination in view, which, however, was not the case. 
In the second street I saw a light in the upstairs window of a 
little cottage, where, I remembered, there lay a young girl 
who was very ill. Yes, I reflected, it is woise with her 
than with me, and there are those about her who cannot 
give sleep to their eyes for sorrow and the '-multitude 
of thoughts within them." Going on a little, I heard a 
sound in the distance, and paused to listen. It was the rumble 
of a barrow upon the pavement, from which I understood that 
*' Eeady Ned " was on night duty. It was at night Ned 



34© RHYS LEWIS. 

always worked, at night that his work must be done. For 
more reasons than one I took another direction, proceeding 
along which I remember a white cat gliding, spirit-like, across 
my path. Hurrying on, I saw, just before reaching the top of 
the high street, a slightly built little man wearing a soft hat, 
slouched somewhat low over the eyes ; a tired, hard-up tramp, 
most likely. I bade him good night, but he made no reply. I 
thought no worse of him for that, it being possible, I fancied, 
he may be fatigued, empty-stomached, angered at a cold- 
hearted world, too wearied or careless to reply, and saying to 
himself, "What's your * good-night' worth if you don't give 
me anything ? " 

Presently, I had left the town behind me, without seeing one 
other creature save "William the Coal's mule grazing the hedge. 
I knew it was he before coming up, from the clink of his fetter. 
I remembered that '* Duke" was of a wandering disposition, 
and that William was obliged to chain him by the leg in order to 
keep him within the bounds of his own parish. " Duke " was 
busily browsing, and occasionally shaking his head, with the 
greatest gravity, as if discussing something with himself in a 
negative sense, for at that time of night it was impossible he 
could be plagued by the gnats. When he heard me approach, 
*VDuke" stopped eating, arrested his jaw in the midst of a bite 
and began wondering, apparently, why William had come to 
fetch him thus early, for his ears went up like a double note of 
admiration. Seeing his mistake, "Duke" went on with his 
grazing and argument. I went on, too, my mind rambling 
over all sorts of subjects, but always reverting to myself. I was 
conscious of a deep and earnest desire for knowledge and for 
being of service to both God and man. And yet everything 
seemed to be driving me back behind the counter, doomed for 
life to sell cloths, flannels and calico I I tried to cheer myself 
and look at things in a different light. What mattered it if my 
life were spent in the shop ? There was no scarcity of young 
men, better qualified than I, for the ministry and more ad- 
vantageously placed in preparation for the work. I looked up 
into the infinite, star-studded, sky overhead. What difference 
would it make, T asked myself, if eternal darkness settled down 
upon that tiny solitary speck in the far-off distance ? No one 



RHYS LEWIS. 341 



would miss it. And yet that star shone with a lovely lustre, 
and, doubtless, served some useful purpose or other. Yes, 
there are clouds in the firmament of blue. How beautiful the 
luminous moon, in her radiance ! Ah ! there comes a cloud 
across her face, which hides her wholly. How like, now, 
she is to me! But, see, the cloud passes— one part of her placid 
countenance is already in sight— aye, the cloud has cleared 
away again, and gentle Luna beams brighter than before. Can 
the cloud pass from me, also ? Everything is possible unto Him. 

Such were the thoughts of my heart when I fancied hearing 
footsteps behind me. I looked back, but saw no one. Turning 
suddenly upon my heel, I made for home. I had not gone 
many yards when I saw a man get up from the hedge side, and 
walk to meet me. It was the tramp I had passed on the road; 
only he did not now seem to halt in the slightest, neither did 
his hat-cantle cover his eyes as before. I believed he had 
some evil intention towards me, and at once thought of run- 
ning away. But how could I tell what arms he had? It would 
be wisest to face him boldly, and make the best of a bad 
matter. When we met I recognised him instantly. 

*'Tou must'nt think me too proud to speak just now, 
because I refused to answer you," he observed. *' O, no, I'm 
never above owning my relations ; but I take care not to lower 
myself by talking to all sorts. And how " 

" Uncle," I broke in, "do you remember what I said to you 
the last time I saw you ? " 

" ' Good -night ! ' " he replied. 

"You know that is not the occasion I'm referring to," I 
rejoined. " Do you recollect what I told you in the garden of 
Nic'las of Garth bdu?" 

"Well, wait a bit; my memory is not so bad, as a rule. 
What was it, though ? Oil remember now — that you'd give 
me a sovereign next time you saw me. How a man does 
forget things, to be sure." 

" You know better," I retorted. "You know that what I 
told you was— if ever you showed your face in this neighbour- 
hood again, I would give you into the hands of the police ; and 
I'll do so, too." 

" Bosh ! " he returned, contemptuously. "Look here— when 



342 RHYS LEWIS. 



you want a good shot, never take a double-barrelled gun. 
That's the disadvantage of a revolver. It's good for no- 
thing except at short range. Am I not your uncle, your 
father's brother ? To whom would the disgrace be if you gave 
me up to the police ? To James Lewis or Ehys Lewis ? What 
does James Lewis care about disgrace? I know a certain proud 
chap, though, who wouldn't like it at all — eh ? But there, I 
don't wan't to quarrel with you. It isn't respectable for 
relations to fall out. Let byegones be byegones. So, old 
Abel has gone to his account, has he ? The old screw— he'll 
have a lot to answer for, like myself." 

*' Here, uncle," said I, *' I'd rather you killed me than spoke 
disrespectfully of my good old master." 

'• Well, well," he coiitinuned ; "I don't want to hurt your 
feelings. It was a capital thing for you that Abel took himself 
off. You'll be boss, now ; for what does the old gal and that 
born idiot, Jones, know about the business ? If you don't 
make your fortune now, the fault will be yours. I hope you 
won't deal shabby bj'^ me. I'm the only relation left you in 
the world, and I've been real unlucky of late. Haven't had a 
haul I don't know when, and it was a narrow shave I wasn't 
nabbed last week. I had to fight like ." 

" I can't bear to listen to your ungodly talk, and I must 
leave you, uncle," said I. 

"I don't wan't you to take apartments for me," he went on ; 
"because that wouldn't pay either of us. But I'm in want of 
cash, and cash I must have or starve. P'r'aps you haven't 
much about j'ou to-night ; but I can come over to see you, 
now and then, since you're to be boss, and are a late bird, like 
myself." 

"As long as I am there you'll never set foot inside the 
house," I declared. " And besides, I'm as poor as yourself." 

'* That's your own fault," he remarked. •* If you hadn't 
swallowed so much of the flummery ladled out to you by your 
mother you need never have been poor. Trust me, if I had 
had your chance." 

I must tell the honest truth: at his mention of my mother, 
I felt I could throttle him with pleasure, and had to punish 
myself very considerably in order to prevent myself from flying 



RHYS LEWIS. 343 



at his throat. So severe was the internal struggle with my 
worse nature that I was, for a minute, unable to speak. On 
regaining self-possession— God forgive me my mad words— I 
said to him : — 

" You scoundrel! Say another disrespectful word about my 
mother and I'll pull you limb from limb. My mother taught 
me to lead an honest life." 

Uncle retreated two or three yards, looked at me in astonish- 
ment, and fumbled for something in his pockets. I was not a 
bit afraid, and was quite prepared to fall a sacrifice to his wrath 
in defence of the repuation of, to my mind, the best mother in 
the world. After a minute's silence he said, with perfect 
composure: 

"I'm glad to see a bit of the family pluck in you. I'd 
always considered you a bit of a chicken ; but I think a 
hundred times better of you, now. If I said anything wrong 
about your mother, I apologise. She was a good sort, in her 
way, and she did me an occasional kindness. But why do you 
everlastingly want to quarrel with me? Let's be chums. That's 
where your father beat you— he was as cool as a turnip, always. 
I'm sorry if I've offended you. But you know what I'm after. 
I'm stone broke; I haven't a brown to buy a bit of grub with, 
and I know you wouldn't like to see me getting into trouble." 

" I don't want to have anything to do with you," said I. 
** Tell me which way you wish to go, and I'll take some other. 
I shan't walk a step with you." 

"Agreed," he said. "But give me what you have about 
you, first. It isn't much, I dare say." 

Impulsively, I turned out my pocket into his hand, thinking 
I had only a few shillings loose among the coppers. Thank- 
ing me, he went away, and I returned home. The encounter 
fully determined me in the course I should take. It was no 
longer possible I could stay at home to be plagued by this 
horrid wretch. I felt he had got the upper hand of me, that 
he knew my weakness, and that I dared not denounce him to 
the authorities without bringing disgrace upon myself. Obvi- 
ously he was not aware that I preached, and by going to 
college he would lose scent of me, for he dared not make 
inquiries. I believed it was Providence that had brought me 



344 RHYS LEWIS. 

face to face with the vagabond that night, and was inviting me 
to throw myself into its arms. I resolved to do so, and go to 
college, come what may. Although I could not help my 
family connections, I felt thankful at the thought that, associ- 
ated with the rest of the scholars, none of them would know my 
history. And possibly, I argued, even some of them may have 
a history which they would not like everybody else to know. 
Having made up my mind, I felt happy and in my element. 
Indeed my bliss was such that I could enjoy the altered look 
on *♦ Duke " as I went by. My old friend had eaten to satiety, 
and was nodding where he stood, one leg resting limply, and 
his head bent low and still, as if he had long since carried the 
point in discussion. "Duke," I fancied, had, like myself, his 
etory, if he could only tell it, and could preface others — a more 
interesting one than mine, it may be. I walked rapidly on, and 
let myself into the house as softly as I could. When Hit the gas, 
one of the first things I saw was my purse upon the edge of the 
table. I took it up ; it was empty ! Alas ! I had given every 
farthing I possessed to the "Irishman," as I used to call him 
when a lad. I grasped the situation with grief. Having made 
up my mind to go to college, here was I without as much as a 
penny to pay my fare thither. Stupified and sorrowful, I stood 
on the middle of the kitchen floor, where Abel Hughes had 
many a time exhorted me to put my trust in God. Yerily, He 
was trying me sore. I sat down, laid my head between my 
hands upon the table, and cried my eyes out, nearly. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

A WELL-KNOWN CHARACTER. 

I LOOK upon the night I have attempted to describe in the last 
chapter as one of the great nights of my little life. Friendless 
and lonely, I felt as if all things had conspired to deprive me 
of the object on which I had set my heart. I feared I was out 
of favour with God, and that all my convictions and dealings 
with religion were but hypocrisy and pretence. Without 
flattery, I knew that as a preacher I was tolerably acceptable 



RHYS LEWIS. 345 



of men ; but why, I asked, does God, in his Providence, seem 
to be placing every obstacle in my way ? I could say, honestly 
and unhesitatingly, I was no money-lover, and that my heart's 
affections were fixed solely on preaching and fitting myself for 
the work. Still, I felt I could do nothing without money, and 
there I was, by my own folly, left **as poor as a church 
mouse." I thought so little of money that I had not yet 
learned to take care of it. As I have already said, I believed I 
was deeply desirous to be of use in my day and time; but by 
now I hadn't a penny to assist me in the work. My mind re- 
verted, with discontent, I fear, to the scores of people I knew 
who were rolling in riches, but who had never dreamt of 
serving anybody but themselves; and Will Bryan's words 
came forcibly to memory— " Old pockets! They are but 
intelligent pigs. It must be, look you, that the Great King 
does not place much value on money, or He wouldn't have 
given so much of it to the dunderheads ; " and he would add, 
*' Sir, says Mr. Fox, they are sour." 

The question suddenly occurred to me had I been too much 
accustomed to rely upon Abel Hughes, and had Providence, by 
stripping me of all external help, invited me to throw myself, 
as I did, into its arms ? It seemed presumption to think of 
going to college with nothing about me save a sufficiency of 
clothes and a few books. I remembered the man Thomas 
Bartley spoke of who, trusting to Providence, had died in 
Holywell workhouse. Anyhow, I resolved to do my best with 
the work I had begun, and tried to believe that God would 
speedily give me light upon my circumstances. Very early 
next morning I notified Miss Hughes of my determination to 
go to college. She was astounded. She had never believed, 
she said, I could be so cruel towards her. I tried to reason 
with her ; but to no purpose. It was through her heart she 
saw everything, and not through her head. She offered me a 
good salary if I stayed on with her; but I refused. After 
much talk, she generously said she would give me a share of the 
business. That offer, also, I rejected. She then fell back upon 
the most effective argument a woman has at command— she 
began to cry. She taunted me with all the kindness she had 
shown me— pointed out how poor I was when I came to the 



346 RHYS LEWIS. 



Corner Shop— the comfortable home I had found there— what a 
mercy it was I had been brought under instruction by Abel — 
and what a figure I would have cut but for that. She said I 
was unfeeling, unkind, hard-hearted, ungrateful, selfish. 
Many other epithets did she use. She declared I cared for no- 
body but myself, and that it would not matter to me if I saw 
her '* going on the parish." The fact that she knew nothing of 
the business, she said, kindled no spark of sympathy in me. 
For all she could tell, she added, she might be without a home 
before three months were over. 

I listened to her in silence, feeling, at the same time, that I 
was guilty on every count of her indictment. My fears were 
confirmed that she did not know anything of her brother's 
affairs. I asked her to calm herself and wait till the morrow, 
when I believed I should be able to give her good advice. She 
answered, tartly, that if she could do without my services she 
could do without my advice, as well. I said not a word in 
rejoinder, for which, I must now admit, I repent. I went 
to the shop, and, with Jones's assistance, worked hard all 
that day and through the night. Miss Hughes did not 
know, nor do I think she cared, what we were about, nor 
did she speak a word with either of us. I ought to have 
said that, immediately after Abel's death, she handed all his 
keys to me, perfectly heedless of what she was about, and 
ready to die with her brother. Once I began the task I never 
rested until I had made an inventory of the whole stock. 
Abel, with but few exceptions, giving his customers no credit, 
it was no difficult matter to speedily set the shop books to 
rights. At the end of twenty-four hours I had a pretty clear 
notion of the property my master had left behind him. As I 
was jotting down the very last item Jones perched himself on 
his stool, placed his head— which, for some time, had been 
swimming — upon the counter, and slept like a top. Under other 
circumstances I should have thought it very bold of me, but 
taking into account Miss Hughes's helplessness, and conscious, 
moreover, that my dead master was not frowning on me, I 
hesitated not in ransacking every cupboard, chest, and drawer 
that the place contained. I remember well, on opening one 
drawer in an oaken cupboard, wherein Abel kept his private 



RHYS LEWIS. 347 



papers, I remember, I say, the devil coming out of it, and he 
and I engaging in a very hard fight. In this drawer was a 
bundle of bank notes, and, said the devil to me : "Do you hear 
Jones snoring ? Do you remember Abel's intention to endow 
you with a number of these ? You know no memorandum ot 
them has been kept, and, even if there had been it would be a 
very easy matter to destroy it. If you were to take two, or 
three, or four of them, it wouldn't be more than Abel would 
have given you, were he alive. It is exactly the same thing for 
you to take, as for Abel to have given them. It will be no theft 
at all, because, in a sense, you own some of them already. The 
probability is you won't have as much as a * thank you ' from 
Miss Hughes for all your trouble. Well, if you're not prepared 
to take two or three, take one— just one ; you are certain Abel 
Hughes would have given you more. Eemember you haven't 
a single shilling in your possession, and that it is impossible 
you can get along without money, so that whatever may be the 
sum taken you are sure to make good use of it." 

With many other promptings did the Enemy attempt my 
overthrow ; but, thank God ! I remembered the armour where- 
with my mother had clad me. Never in my life was it of such 
use as now. Sheathed in it, I made the Devil flee. After com- 
pleting my self-imposed task, I went to talk to Miss Hughes 
with an easy conscience and with hands on which there was no 
hair — considerations of greater value than millions of money. 
My reception was cool and unconcerned, but I cared not for 
that. I addressed her, as far as I can recollect, in these words : 

" Miss Hughes, it was unnecessary you should have reminded 
me of all your kindness towards me, because I never forgot it, 
for one day. I know you think me hard-hearted for leaving 
you and going to college. But I fancy you believe mo honest, 
or else you wouldn't have trusted so much under my hands, 
neither would I have done what I did. I have reason to believe 
that you know nothing of the situation you have been left in 
by the death of my master. It is surprising to me that so 
eagacious a man should have kept this knowledge from you, 
and more surprising still that he never made a will. Without 
asking your permission, I have entered upon a tolerably minute 
inquiry into his circumstances, and I find that, after paying all 



348 RHYS LEWIS. 

his creditors my master died possessed of property whicli — 
including stock, money on the books, in the bank and in the 
house— amounts to about fifteen hundred pounds. This will be 
sufficient to support you comfortably, assuming you live to old 
age ; and my advice is— you can reject it if you like— that you 
sell the stock and business. I think I know a friend who 
would willingly take everything oflf your hands. But as for 
my staying here to look after the business— that is out of the 
question. I am determined to go to college ; and I am certain 
that if you could only consult my old master, he would tell you 
that I am doing right." 

My words acted like magic on her; her sourness melted like 
snow on a slate in the sunshine, only much more quickly. She 
looked incredulous one moment, satisfied and tender, as her 
wont, the next; for she and I had been great friends always. 

*♦ I spoke nasty things to you, Ehys," she observed. " I did 
not know what I was saying. You'll forgive me, won't you ? I 
always did like you ; you know that yourself. You have more 
sense than I. Poor Abel used to say, when you were a boy, 
that you could twist me round your fingers. You know best, 
and I'll do as you tell me. If I got anyone here in your place, 
he would only rob me; what do you think? I have known, 
this long while, you wanted to go to Bala ; so I won't try to 
stop you. You'll get there everything you want, and you'll be 
just in your element. Must you go next week ? Can't you 
make it a fortnight ? What'U you have for dinner ? Shall I 
stew some kidneys for you?" &c., &c. 

*' Simple woman !" something whispered to me. ** Ask her for 
that which you are bound to have— money." "I will not," said 
I. "No; independence is worth something, and I shall not ask 
her for a penny piece, although I'm sure she would not deny me, 
were I to do so." It was quite clear she knew no more about 
the college than did Thomas Bartley, and that she regarded it 
as next door to heaven, where they neither wived, nor ate, nor 
drank. Poor old thing ! If she enquired she would have found 
that the students were guilty of one and the other of all these 
things, to a greater degree or less. Thomas Bartley and Miss 
Hughes were not the only ones, it seemed, who fancied Bala a 
place flowing with milk and honey, and that once a young man 



RHYS LEWIS. 349 



got there he was all right. For anything I know, not a single 
member of the church to which I belonged had the slightest 
objection to my going to college. Monthly Meeting had 
unanimously desired me to go. But, Thomas Bartley excepted, 
no one living asked me what my prospects were of supporting 
myself there, although they must have known I had not, at 
the time, lost as much as one of my teeth. I do not mention 
this in any carping spirit. The only man, so I imagined, who 
realised the importance of the enterprise which a poor youth 
embarked upon when he went to college, was Abel Hughes ; 
and he, by this time, was in his grave. For all that, I resolved 
to challenge Providence. Was the challenge accepted "i We 
shall see. I considered it my duty to do all I could for Miss 
Hughes before leaving her. To cut the story short, I succeeded, 
with the help of a man experienced in such aflfairs, in making 
arrangements for the transfer of the business to the friend who 
was anxious to get it. I reckoned Miss Hughes, after all had 
been settled, would be worth about fourteen hundred pounds, 
or about a hundred less than my original estimate. In view of 
the present contingency, I had arranged with the buyer to 
consider little Jones as part of the fixtures; a transaction 
which eased a good deal the load my mind had laboured under 
ever since the night when Will Bryan and I came so near to 
hanging the miserable creature. 

In the midst of hunting up my effects and packing my books 
into au old tea chest, I several times stood stock-still and 
dumb, while something said <o me : " What a fool you are to 
throw up a good place, refuse a capital salary, and lose the 
chance of one day becoming a prosperous trader. You must 
be mad!" But then, something else, within me, said: **What 
does it matter ? The ' old pockets ' may have all the business 
and money, for my part, if I can, in any way, get to college, 
and pick up some sort of a living there." I believed my 
intention was simple and straightforward, and, fui-ther, that 
Providence would not allow me to starve. I knew if I told my 
best friends of my poverty, they would have cordially helped 
me ; but I could not stoop to that. It was a Friday night, and 
I was to leave for College on the following Monday. I had 
no engagement to preach on the Sunday, having refused 



350 J^HYS LEWIS, 



to enter into one, lest I might be obliged to go to college in the 
meantime— for which I was now sorry. I remembered Will 
Bryan's observation about my being " poor and proud." But 
I could not help it. I had inherited this stupid independence 
from my mother, and I prayed earnestly for help to keep it, 
because it had become very precious in my sight. On the 
Friday night, Providence appeared fully bentupon humbling me 
to the dust and compelling me to do what I had never done 
before, namely, to ask the loan of a sovereign which I had no 
prospect of paying back. Of whom should I borrow ? There 
was only one man on earth I had the temerity to apply to, and 
that was Thomas Bartley. As far as he was concerned, I felt as 
if the sovereign were in my hand before I had asked for it ; and 
he was so ingenuous, methought, that I could, with some con- 
fidence, preserve my dignity in the borrowing. Thomas was 
evidently the man. But I resolved not to ask even Thomas 
until the last hour, lest I should be forestalling Providence ; 
for I strove hard to believe that it would take care of me. 

These thoughts were hovering about my mind when Miss 
Hughes knocked at the door of my room and came in, saying, 
*' Ehys, William Williams, the deacon at Blaenycwm, wants to 
see you." I was down in the kitchen before you could have 
counted ten, although I had counted a hundred things in the 
interval. William was a noble old fellow, whose errand was 

to get me to preach at Cwm on the Sunday, the Rev. 

*' having broken his appointment, without giving any reason 
for so doing." My back went up on the instant. I never re- 
member, save that time, rejoicing to find a man break r.n 
engagement. But, the sly dog I was ! I advanced several 
weighty reasons why I could not come to Cwm, the chief being 
that I was going to college on the following morning. But 
William urged that that was the very reason why I should 
accept the invitation, adding that he would take care I was 
Bent home on the Sunday night. After much persuasion I 
gave the promise required. I had, it will be seen, learned early 
how to bluff in negotiating an engagement, but, thank good- 
ness ! I speedily learned to give over the habit. I now felt 
Providence was beginning to smile upon me. I was in 
excellent spirits on the Sabbath, at night especially, while 



RHYS LEWIS. 351 

being conveyed home with half a sovereign in my pocket. I 
believed, nevertheless, it would be prudent for me to borrow 
the sovereign of Thomas Bartley, so that I might have " some- 
thing to fall back on." Thomas and Barbara promised to come 
to the station on Monday morning to bid me good-bye. While 
at breakfast the thought struck me, what if Thomas hadn't a 
sovereign in his pocket ? On consideration, it was not likely 
that Thomas carried any gold about him, well off though I 
knew him to be. It was clear I must visit the Tump to 
make sure of my loan. I accordingly hurried through with 
breakfast, there being only a couple of hours to spare before 
the train started. 

*' Why do you eat so fast ? " Miss Hughes asked. 

" The time is short," I replied. 

"You remember, Rhys," she said, '* that I shall expect you 
to spend your Christmas holidays with me, if you're not too 
proud. I will keep your bed for you, for by that time I shall 
have gone to live to * the Cottage.' " 

I thanked her, and began to fancy Providence was now set- 
ting to work in earnest. 

"Were there any wages due to you from Abel?" she queried. 

"None," I responded. "I got my money in advance, a 
month ago, up to last Saturday." 

" Here," she rejoined ; " I know you'll find everything you 
want in college; but p'r'aps you won't get much pocket money. 
Here's five pounds for you, if you'll accept 'em." 

I came near shouting Hallelujah ! The tears sprang into my 
eyes, and in order to hide them, I coughed at a terrible rate, as 
if a bread-crumb had gone down the wrong way. I thanked 
Miss Hughes heartily for a kindness which she, I knew, re- 
joiced to find I had not refused. There was no necessity now 
for going to the Tump and asking the loan of a sovereign. I 
was thoroughly set up, and as merry as a lark, in consequence. 
I parted with Miss Hughes on the most excellent terms. And, 
to tell the truth, I did that which I had not done for many 
years— since, in fact, my wicked days, when I wanted a 
shilling— I gave her wrinkled cheek a kiss; and, amidst the 
tears and sobs of the kindly, simple old soul, who bade me be 
sure to write her, I too, as Will Bryan said, made my exit. 



352 RHYS LEWIS, 



I felt very happy on the morning I first left home, for two 
reasons. To begin with, it seemed as if Providence were 
clearly showing its approval of my resolution to go to college ; 
and secondly, I had strong grounds for believing that I had a 
warm place in the aflfections of numerous friends who came to 
wish me farewell. Not the least amongst these were David 
Davis and Thomas and Barbara Bartley. Whenever the 
Bartleys went away by train they took care to be at the station 
at least an hour before the appointed time. Although I had 
come that morning quite fifteen minutes earlier than was 
necessary, Thomas protested that I was within an ace of losing 
the train. Barbara sat upon a hamper on the platform, 
punctuating, with a nod of the head, every paragraph of her 
husband, who spoke unceasingly; I trying to take in every 
word he said, thinking it would afford matter of amusement for 
my fellow- lodger at Bala, whoever he might be. When the 
train came in, I shook hands with the friends and with Barbara, 
who was too tired to get up from the hamper, I thought. As 
soon, however, as I was seated in the carriage, she jumped 
up to her feet, and Thomas, taking hold of the hamper, swung 
it on to the seat beside me, saying, softly, in my ear : " It's for 
you, that is. Take care of it, and remember, directly we hear 
of a cheap trip to Bala, Barbara'n I are bound to come and see 
how you are." And before I could say a word, Thomas was 
powdering his way out of the station, with Barbara leaning 
upon his arm. 

I was overwhelmed ; and yet the act was Thomas Bartley's 
all over. 1 felt certain the hamper contained valuable treasure 
to the young man of hearty appetite. But I showed no curiosi- 
ty to know its contents (as I might have done by trying its 
weight or putting my nose to the cover for a sniff), there being 
another young man— my sole fellow-traveller— in the same 
compartment, whom I did not want to see that I was not per- 
fectly cognisant of the nature of my prize. We were whisked 
along towards Corwen. Presently I began taking stock of my 
fellow-traveller. I do not know whether other people have 
felt the same— perhaps they have, foolish though the feeling be 
—but in travelling by train, let the number of those in the 
same compartment be what it may, the impression will cross 



RHYS LEWIS. 353 



my mind, after I have been in their company for a short time, 
that I haye seen them somewhere previously, and ought to 
know them. Of course, this is only a delusion, and I do not 
know how to account for it. Do we, I wonder, segregate 
faces —classify them— and, on coming into the presence of 
strangers and looking at them a while, do we, unawares, single 
them out as belonging to one section or the other ? And do we, 
after much staring, fancy we ought to know the unit, the in- 
dividual, by the class to which he belongs ? I cannot t^U. I 
felt sure I ought to know my fellow-traveller, although 
common sense told me I had never seen him before. I guessed 
him to be three or four years older than myself. He was white- 
ekiuned, jet black-haired and eyebrowed, wore homespun 
clothes, and, I believed, hailed from Carnarvonshire. He had 
a book in his hand, which, however, he did not read, for he 
looked sadly out of window — not on the landscape I was 
certain— but at something else unknown to me ; possibly his 
home, his family, or uncertain future. For some time he 
seemed wrapped in the profoundest study. I burned with a 
desire to speak to him. I was sure, in my own mind, of the sort 
of voice he had, and entertained no doubt whatever but that he 
was a Welshman. Presently I remarked, in English, that the 
weather was delightful. He answered, in the same language, 
but with a decidedly Welsh accent. He evinced no desire to 
enter into a conversation, for which I was sorry, because I 
liked his face very much and, however idle might be the notion, 
felt that my fellow passenger's spirit and mine had "consorted 
before ever we saw each other in the flesh. Speedily I, like 
himself, became absorbed in my own thoughts. We both got 
out at Corwen, which at that time was the farthest place we 
could go to by train. I had secured my precious hamper, and 
was looking after my box and tea-chest, which were in the van, 
and had my name on them, when someone tapped me lightly 
on the shoulder and said, '*Mr. Lewis, is that your hamper, 
Sir?" 

*♦ Yes," replied I ; " what about it ?" 

" Oh, nothing," he returned, " only I wanted to take care 
of it for you. What's up ? Is there a strike ? There's only 
two of you come to-day, and I'd made sure of having a good 
z 



354 RBYS LEWIS, 



load. That's the way with you students ; you always do things 
drib-drab, instead of clubbing together and making one job of 
it. Have you anything else besides these two boxes and the 
hamper?" 

At first I could not make him out. He was a burly, cheer- 
ful, bold-looking man, and yet his boldness became him. It 
would be difficult to guess whether he was butcher, farmer, or 
horse-dealer. Howeyer, I soon discovered that he wished to 
convey me and my things to Bala. I asked him how came he 
to know it was to Bala I was bound ? 

*' Man alive," he returned, " even if I hadn't read the 
address on your box I should have known you, directly. I 
could pick a student, and any sort of a Methodist preacher, out 
of a thousand. I am so used to them, Sir. D'ye know, I 
spotted the other one and clapped him into the coach before you 
could look about you ?" 

*• Here's a wonderful man for you," said I to myself. "I 
never knew till now that I was like a student ; and how can I 
be, since I never was at Bala ?" 

All the same, I was not sorry that this man, whoever he was, 
should have taken me for a student. I followed him as a dog 
does his master. I saw at once that my angel was very well 

known. From the greetings he got I found his name to be E . 

I noticed that, here and there, one who was pretty free with him 
would address him by the name of the stuff which they often 
make pudding with. I did not know, at the time, whether this 
was his proper or a nick name. When he had led me to his 
conveyance, I was surprised at perceiving that " the other one," 

Mr. E , had spoken of was my serious fellow-traveller 

by train. So, this *' other one " was going to college, like my- 
self ! What a pity I did not know it sooner ! How had Mr. 

E found it out directly he saw him, while I had been in 

his company for some time and the fact had never once crossed 
my mind? I consoled myself with the reflection that "the 

other one " was as dense as I was. While Mr. E- was 

putting my luggage into his coach, I cast my eye upon the 
horses, my first impression of them being that there was 
no danger of their running away and leaving us behind. 
I was in a bit of a fix as to whether they were frames 
of new horses which had not acquired fiesh and become 



RHYS LEWIS. 355 



perfected, or whether they were old horses on the eve of ran- 
ishing. Although not much acquainted with horse flesh, I 
fancied, after lookiug them well over, that the sharply defined 
points of these brutes proclaimed them to belong to the vanish- 
ing class. A minute inspection of them resolved itself into 
this : " New horses," I thought, "would not be wise enough to 
take advantage of a respite to indulge in a nap; therefore 
these must be old." I noticed that one of them smiled in his 
sleep, as if dreaming of the time when they fed him on oats, 
while the other started up, now and again, in terror, as if he had 
just become aware that the tanner was taking aim at him 
with a gun. It suddenly struck me that, as I had heard the 
students did, they, too, perhaps, "lived on very little." My 
fellow-passenger was already seated in the coach, lost in con- 
templation once more. Mr. E was not very ready to 

start with so small a cargo. After much fussing, inquiring, 
searching and haggling, he succeeded at last in luging a 
couple of old women on board. As an apology for the delay, 
he said to me, when I was taking my place beside him on the 
dickey— "We must have a bit of ballast, you know, Mr. 
Lewis, or we shan't be safe." It was one of the most marvell- 
ous things I ever saw. The crack of Mr. E 's whip, ac- 
companied by a guttural sound, not unlike a curse, had the 
effect upon those horses, literally, of the cry above the dry 
bones! The poor creatures were instantly all life, their dread 
of the driver being such that they would rather have dropped 
stone dead on the roadside than disobey him. 

"They are excellent things to go, Mr. E ," I re- 
marked. 

"That just depends on who is driving them, Sir," he re- 
turned. " The students complain shockingly that it is im- 
possible to make them move. See here;" and once more Mr. 

E uttered that feaiful guttural sound and used the 

whip unsparingly. The horses strained themselves to the 
utmost, panting in the back with fright, as I have seen ani- 
mals do at the unexpected burst of a thunderclap. 

"It is 1, Sir," added Mr. E , "who lets out horses to 

the students for Sunday appointments. And if they were only 
to do as I tell them, the creatures would go the pace fast 



356 RHYS LE WIS, 



enough. But they are too quiet by half ; these students are. 
Do you know what ? Every horse I've got can tell a student 
from another man. They know students are preachers, and 
take liberties with them in consequence. There's no use in 
being too particular, Sir ; if you want horses to go you must 

them. Ynogodariochiwaliaid !* D'ye see how they step 

out, now ? Where are you going to preach next Sunday ? I 
should think you'll want a horse. You come to me on Friday 
night. What ! no engagement ? You're sure to get one, next 
Sunday, 'cause half the students won't have come back, and 
there'll be lots of letters wanting preachers, you shall see. I 
know all about these things, Sir. Have you been to Bala 
before ? Where are you going to lodge ?" 

It would be impossible for me to describe, accurately and in 

detail, the information and guidance I got from Mr. E , in 

the course of the drive from Corwen to Bala — all of burning 
interest, and all eagerly drunk in. He gave me the history of 
the family I was going to lodge with, from top to toe. With- 
out my asking him but few questions, he outlined for me, in 
his own peculiar fashion, the principal characters of the town. 
Before I had reached my journey's end I knew who lived at 
Ehiwlas, at the Big Bull, the Little Bull, the White Lion, 
Plas Coch, and Post Office ; the names of the chapel deacons, 
the doctors of divinity and medicine, and of many others. But 
what he loved to dwell upon was the students. He knew them 
all personally, the counties they came from, and with whom they 
lodged. He said of one that *' he was a cure ;" of another that 
** he had nothing at all in him;" and of a third, that he 
was "a bit of a swell," &c. He told me several stories 
about them, with every one of which his own horses had some- 
thing to do. I considered Mr. E a very entertaining 

character, and I am certain I never in my life learned so much 
in so short a time. I liked him for taking such interest in the 
students. I failed to discover whether he was a religionist or 
not, and I thought it would be impertinent to ask. His in- 
timate acquaintance with the chapel people and cause, and his 



• Our Jehu's guttural objurgation to his cattle- The wary English 
reader will, douhtless, make no more attempt to pronounce than I did to 
translate the word.— TKANSLAToa. 



J^HYS LEWIS. 357 



knowledge of the collegians, made me think he was ; but when 
he addressed the horses, parenthetically as it were, with his 
** Ynogodariochiwaliaid," I feared he was not. Little did I 

suspect at the time I should have so much to do with Mr. E 

during my stay at Bala. There quickens in my memory at this 
moment many an interesting occurrence connected with him 
"which would afford a fat pasture of amusement for the students' 
rack, and the noting of which would have been a special 
pleasure to me. But inasmuch as it is not a memoir of Mr. 

E that I am engaged on, I must leave that to an abler 

hand. Is it possible that in a world so full of sighs, and with 
so much harmless but effective material for driving away 
melancholy, nobody acquainted therewith will take in hand the 
setting forth in due order the character of one who differed so 
much from his fellows, and who, in his own way, was so 
eminently serviceable to Methodism ? 

Such was the attention I paid to our driver that I clean forgot 

my fellow-traveller. Not so Mr. E , who, before we 

reached Tryweryn bridge, looked over his shoulder, and said, 
*'Mr. Williams, where'r you going to lodge?" And, upon 
receiving a reply, "How lucky ! you're both going to the same 
house. We'll set these petticoats [alluding to the women], 
down on the bridge." The occurrence was much more "lucky," 
in my sight, because I felt a great interest in my taciturn 
fellow-student. A few minutes later he and I were sitting in a 
small and sombre parlour, with the housewife— a joyous, 
kindly, little Welshwoman— preparing tea for us, and telling us 
that we were the only students in Bala on that day. " But," 
said she, " they'll all be here, I think, in a week, or a fortnight 
at the latest." 

When two men meet, of similar mind and purpose, knowing 
they are likely to live together for some years, but the scantiest 
ceremony is necessary to bring about a mutual understandicg 
and confidence. Needless to say, Mr. Williams and myself got to 
know much of each other within the half hour, and that we 
had become old friends before the students mustered in any- 
thing like force. Mr. Williams hailed from Carnarvonshire, 
and was, as his face proclaimed him to be, an honest, serious, 
fitraightforward young fellow. It is not for me to say how h© 



358 liHYS LEWIS. 



felt ; but as for me, I counted myself happy and fortunate in, 
for the first time, being brought into contact with one "who 
understood me, one "who trod the same path, was possessed of 
the like aim, and combatted the same difficulties, one with 
whom I could converse without reserve and without fear of his 
making a laughing-stock of me. Although older by some years 
than myself, I felt sure that I was the better Englishman, and 
knew more of the way of the world, for which I was indebted to 
Will Bryan and the place I was brought up in. After a little talk, 
however, I found he was the better divine, and I knew, before 
I heard him, that he was the better preacher also. So he was, 
and so he is to-day, an infinitely better preacher than I. They 
are rare hands at preaching, these Carnarvon boys. It is my 
opinion that the more English the place he is reared in, the 
worse preacher a man makes, and vice versa. Williams came 
up exactly to that which I had dreamt my fellow -lodger would 
be. I cannot help acknowledging my great indebtedness to 
him. One occurrence comes fresh to mind, and I cannot re- 
frain from laughter in recalling it. I think I have already 
stated that Abel Hughes always took care I dressed well. The 
day I went to Bala I had on a good suit of black clothes. 
While freely conversing with me, I saw that Williams was 
making careful note of my attire, and speaking as if he were 
thinking of something else. I guessed correctly what was 
transpiring in the ante-room of his mind. After taking a stroll 
to view the town and lake, and as we were recommencing our 
conversation by the — , I had almost said fire, only I remembered 
that Bala folk do not believe in fire as early in the year as we 
did in ohire— Williams said, — 

•' Mr. Lewis (he had not yet begun to call me Ehys, nor I to 
call him Jack), I am afraid we are a little unsuitably yoked. 
It's best I should tell you the truth at once : I am but a 
poor lad. Mother, a widow, is dependent on me, and what 
troubles me mostly to-night is, did I do right by leaving her ? 
It is plain to me that you are of a respectable, well-to-do 
family '* 

Before he could say another word I had exploded with 
laughter. 

•'Mr. Williams," I remarked, '* I'm a bit of a bard. And 



RHYS LEWIS. 359 



do you know my nom de plume f * Job on the Dunghill.' 
You've seen the name, many times, of course. I am the very 
party, sir; " -whereupon I gave him a compendium of my family 
history (excluding my father and "the Irishman" from the 
relationship), and of my resources, actual and probable. 
Strange to relate, Williams became perfectly happy on hear- 
ing of my poverty! In order to convince him I was tell- 
ing the truth, I narrated the story of the hamper which 
he had helped me to carry into the house. In further con- 
firmation, did not he and I fetch the hamper into the parlour, 
and overhaul its contents ? And did we not, that night, get 
additional proof of what was in it, and so on, day by day, until 
we saw the bottom ? 

And, lest I should forget to mention it again, let me here 
say, that the twain whose hearts' were gladdened by the good 
things of that hamper, never, during their stay in college, saw 
the day that they had not a meal they could go to. They both, 
1 shall believe, placed their trust in the loving care of the 
Master, and were not disappointed. 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

THOMAS BARTLEY VISITS BALA. 

Before starting from home I had, foolishly enough, I am 
aware, formed a most extraordinary notion of college life, and 
one which I hardly know how to describe. Cognisant of the 
fact that the students were almost without exception preachers, 
I pictured them in my mind as a set of staid, serious and 
melancholy young men, gathered together from difi'erent parts 
of Wales, whose aggregation weighted and deepened each other's 
individual gloom. I fancied what was called the term to be a four 
months' funeral, at which forty youthful invitees, more or less, 
all in mourning, were engaged listening to the Principal, or 
one of his assistants, reading the Burial Service above the dead 
languages, the resultant blessing being derivable I knew not 
whence or how. So ran my notion ; and not so either, it was 



$6o RHYS LEWIS. 



much more vague. But O, how disappointed I was ! I 
speedily found that the students could laugh and make merry 
like other lads ; that they could enjoy a bit of harmless fun 
and unbend themselves without bruising their conscience. 
Indeed, I have thought, many times, that had Will Bryan 
been present, he would have said there was no "humbug" 
about them, and that they were '* true to nature." I quickly 
learned that melancholy and piety were not the same thing, 
that there was a vast difference between sanctimony and 
sincerity, and that the most natural, free and careless youths — 
in. the best] sense of those words— were the most guileless and 
true. I know two birds who wear coats of the same colour as 
the preacher's — the crow and the blackbird. One croaks and 
the other sings, but I am not, even yet, convinced that it is the 
crow which gives the Creator the greater glory, its more 
numerous, more commonly occurring progeny notwithstanding. 
But I often could not help asking myself, what if David Davis 
were to hear and see us, students ? Would he not say we were 
much too blithe-spirited, and that he had a doubt whether we 
had been called to preach the gospel ? Had he been present, 
however, he would not have been allowed to see anything 
which did not come up to his ideal of the sedate. But would 
he have seen the boys? No; only the special aspect they, 
chose, for the time being, to wear. What was the inference I; 
drew ? This : that never was student seen save by student. Isj 
it not a general fact that to be able to feel free, natural and- 
unstrained, you must be conscious that the company is all of 
the same class and temperament. The presence of a David. 
Davis causes man to draw the veil over a portion of himself, if 
not to do something worse, namely attempt to show that which 
he does not possess. Metaphorically speaking, has not every 
man, and every section of society, a David Davis, who compels 
the assumption of a special aspect? And have not the lower 
animals their David Davis ? T find the sheep and the lambs frisk- 
ing on the slope of the hill and revelling in enjoyment, after 
their manner and kind; but behold a David Davis, in the shape 
of a harmless little dog, approaching, and the play is instantly 
at an end. On a lovely morn in spring, the birds in the bush by 
the wayside warble sweetly, and the passing traveller pauses 



I^HYS LEWIS. 361 



to drink in their melody ; but the warblers hayo seen him, and 
their song has ceased. Ever David Davis. In the month of 
June the attendants at the great smoky town's Sunday School 
get a trip into the country. There are old and young in their 
midst. After consuming their delicacies upon the grass, twenty 
or more of the young people will be seen silently stealing away 
to a spot apart to amuse themselves. Presently, in the course of 
a stroll, some pious and revered old man comes in their way. 
They know him well, think highly of him, and hope, someday, 
to be as he is now; but his appearance spoils their sport. 
David Davis ! Is there not some freemasonry, or whatever it 
may be called, running through all circles of society down 
to the individual himself? Man is not wholly like himself 
except when by himself. Under every other circumstance he 
simply lays himself out to meet the eye and the notions of some 
David Davis. Does it follow, therefore, that man never saw 
other man than himself, and that he himself never saw himself 
save when by himself ? And does it follow that the oftener he 
is by himself the better ? Not the last, at any rate, I trust. 



How different soever Bala and the students were from what 
I had imagined before seeing them, I am confident they were 
still more so to my old friend Thomas Bartley when he paid me 
a visit, which he did, if I remember rightly, after I had been 
about two months at college. As a sort of fillip to my spirits, 
and lest I should forget it, perhaps this is the place where I can 
best give a brief account of that visit. 

It was a Monday morning. I was returning from Traws- 
fynydd, where I had been to preach on the Sabbath. I had 
stayed rather long at Ehyd-y-Fen drinking tea and eating 
oaten bread, expecting a couple of friends by car who had been 
preaching, one at Llan, Festiniog, and the other at Llanbedr 
and Gwynfryn. It was between one and two o'clock in the 
afternoon when I reached Bala. On entering my lodgings, I 
could hardly believe my own eyes ! There sat Thomas Bartley 
in my chair, the room filled with tobacco smoke, and William 3 
sitting opposite him, his face all smiles, from ear to ear. 
Thomas presented a comical appearance even to me, his old 



362 RHYS LEWIS. 



acquaintance ; and the more so because I had not seen him for 
some time turning out in a blue dress coat. But I knew that 
what most tickled Williams's fancy was my friend of the 
Tump's shirt collar, which was simply prodigious. Had Thomas 
blackened his face with burnt cork he would have made a per- 
fect Christy Minstrel. It was only on special occasions that he 
wore these great collars, when, I remember, my brother Bob 
used to say that "Thomas Bartley had gone for coke again," 
the reference being to the habit the carters had of putting 
crates to their trollies when hauling that particular material. 
I feel convinced that this collar had its history, if I could only 
get at it. It was famous ! When Thomas wore it, as on the 
day of his ** club feast," one felt, somehow, it was the collar 
that went to dinner, and that Thomas merely went to keep it 
company. But though the collar was the chief thing, and its 
owner only secondary, in comparison, still, the former served 
as a sort of forerunner, for the collar would be seen for some 
time before Thomas. I think I have already stated that 
Thomas was high in the crown, and that his nose was long and 
sharp, his chin receding deep into the neck, the configuration 
of head and lace reminding a student of a problem in Euclid. 
But, as I have observed, I am almost certain that to Williams 
the most striking feature about that get-up was the outrage- 
ous collar which I noticed he was examining keenly. Indeed, 
even I, who had seen it many times previously, could not help 
admiring it, and admiring Thomas also, as I saw him nestling 
within those ramparts as a man of easy circumstances may 
be seen sunk within an easy arm chair. But I am digressing. 
I marvelled, I say, to find Thomas Bartley in my room. 

"Well, boy," he exclaimed, as if he had not seen me for ever 
60 long ; *' how be, these hundreds and thousands of years ?" 

"Eight well, Thomas," 1 replied. "Who in the world 
would have thought of seeing you in Bala ?" 

"To be shwar. Six o'clock this morning, look you, as I 
was in the middle of feedin' the pig, the fit took me in the head 
to come and see you. But I never thought Bala was so far. 
D'ye know what? it's a goodish step from there here. I'd 
always thought there was a train the whole way ; but, when I 
got to inquire, Corwen was the last station. Howsumever, 



J^HYS LEWIS. 363 



you never saw how lucky I was. At Corwen Mr. Williams 
here knew me. I never thought he'd sin me before ; but it 
sims he had, in the station yonder, when you were goin' away. 
I got a lift from a lot of students, and we had a real pleasant 
chat, didn't we Mr. "Williams? Wonderful tidy boys they 
were too ; but you are like each other, 'markable so. Where' ve 
you bin so long, say ? Mr. Williams told me you'd be here 
some time since. Where were you at it yesterday ?" 

"Trawsfynydd, Thomas," said I. 

" Trawsfynydd ? Well, wait you, now; isn't it one from 

there M LI is ? I thought so, too. He's a rare un, 

M LI is. I always said, if I happened to get into 

trouble, it's M LI I'd have for couns'ller. Did ye hear 

of that time he was at Euthin, Mr. Williams, a long while ago, 
now ? No ? I'll tell you, then. It's as true as the Pater- 
noster. Well, to you, there was a man there — 'twas the time 
of the 'Sizes— who was tried for stealin' bacon — bacon, mind. 
They'd 'ployed Macintyre to prosecute, and the poor chap had 

'ployed M LI to defend him. Well, to you, Macintyre 

was layin' and pitchin it on wonderful, and the man's case got 
to look shockin' black. But, by'm bye, here comes M 's 



turn ; and he goes at it ! He called a butcher forward, and 
asked him what he meant by bacon ? * A pig's sides, salted 

and dried,' says he. 'To be shwar,' says M . Then he 

calls the shopkeeper on and, says he, ' was the meat as you 
say this man stole, was it dried and salted ?' ♦ It wasn't,' says 

the shopkeeper. ' False ditemant,' says M ; and he won 

the case, straight off. He's a rare un, is M . Tell me, is 

there any of his fam'ly livin' at Trawsfynydd now ? There is ? 
If I had time I'd go and see *m, if I's never to move. D'ye 
know what, boys? It's awful close here; open a bit of that 
window, Rhys. It's no wonder in the world you both look so 
pale ; there isn't a breath of air here. You might's well live 
in a bambox as in a snip of a room like this, with the door 
shut and nothing in the blessed world in it but a table, chairs 
and books. You're bound to lose health. If I was put in a 
place like this for two days together I'd die, on the spot. 
There ! That's somethin' like; we'll have a puff of wind in a 
minute. And how does it get on, Ehys ? D'ye like your place ? 
Is there plenty of provijuns here ?" 



364 RHYS LEWIS. 



•' It's got on Tery -well up to now, Thomas," I returned. 
"How are they all with you? How is Barbara, and why 
didn't she come along ?" 

" Well, Barbara's only so, so ; sure to you. She's troubled 
shockin' with the rheumatis and pains in the legs. Td a hard 
scuffle to come here to-day, and she'll be very glad to see mo 
back agen, I can tell you. She wished to be remembered to 
you, kindly. D'ye know what ? I haven't bin from home, be- 
fore, for five and twenty years." 

"What do you think of Bala, Thomas ?" I asked. 

** I haven't seen much of it yet," replied Thomas. "But, 
from what I've seen, it looks, to my miud, very much like a 
town built in the middle of a field. Why on the blessed earth 
don't they cut those trees, there ? Ain't the crows troublesome, 
sometimes ? Never saw a row of big trees, like the Hall's, in 
the middle of the street before. I should fancy you've no 
Local Board here." 

"Bala people think very much of their trees, Thomas 
Bartley, and place a very high value on them," observed 
Williams. 

"Now I think of it, 'deed, Mr. Williams, I shouldn't 
wonder but what they're handy enough on fair days for 
tyin' cattle to. But they struck me as odd when I first 
saw 'em. Here you, Rhys, are you goin' to take me a bit about 
to see the town, say ? I haven't much time, you know, and 
the house'll be on wires till I come back. Have you got 
time?" 

*' I think I have," I answered. " I'll show you as much as 
I can. I take it for granted, Thomas, you've had something 
to eat." 

" Yes, name of goodness. I had dinner with Mr. Williams 
here, suffishant for any man ; and I did oncommon hearty, I 
can tell you." 

" Good," observed I. " After I've had a wash I'll show you 
around." 

"A wash! What d'ye want to wash for? You're like a 
pin in paper ; there isn't a speck on you. Are you gettin' a 
bit stuck up here, say ? " 

Williams laughed, and I ran away to perform my ablutions. 



RHYS LEWIS. 365 



In a minute "Williams followed me to my room, threw himself 
on the bed, and rolled about, laughing until his sides were sore. 

" Rhys," said he, " this is about the most original character 
I've ever met with. The boys had a sovereign's worth of fun 
out of him between Corwen and Bala, and they charged me to 
be sure to tell you to keep him here as long as you can. 
Couldn't we smuggle him into the class, eh ? It would be a 
perfect treat." 

" That would not be quite the thing," I returned. *' It is a 
bit of a nuisance to have to show him around. If the creature 
had left that collar of his at home, I wouldn't have minded so 
much. All the town will be staring at us." 

** Rubbish!" rejoined Williams. "He'd be nothing at all 
without the collar. That collar is worth a hundred pounds. 
Shall I come with you ? If you say yes, mathematics may go 
to Jericho for the afternoon." 

" Shall you, indeed ! " I exclaimed. *' I was on the point of 
offering you five shillings to come and share the shame with me." 

Descending to the parlour, we found Thomas on his feet, re- 
loading his pipe. Seeing us ready to start, he said, '"Is Mr. 
Williams coming along ? Well, that's fine I AYait a bit, 
Rhys; I haven't seen you take anythin' to your mouth since 
I'm here. Have you had nothing to eat ? " 

** "Ses, Thomas. I had a feed at Rhyd-y-Fen." 

*• Rhyd-y-Fen — where's that ? Is it far ? " 

*' Rhyd-y-Fen is a public house half way between Bala and 
Festiniog," I replied. 

"What ! What I " cried Thomas. " Do they, in the north 
country, 'low you preachers to go to pubs ? There's no harm 
in the thing, in my opinion, and I always used to say Abel 
Hughes was too strict in such matters. But let's be off, boys; " 
and Thomas lit his pipe. 

" Perhaps it would be as well for you not to smoke going 
through the town," I remarked. 

" Where's the harm ? " asked mine ancient. *' Are you so 
stuck up as all that in Bala ? " 

" There's no harm in the thing, that I know of, Thomas," I 
replied ; •' only respectable people don't do it here." 



366 RHYS LEWIS. 



'"Deed! And I had heard you were awful smokers here! 
But, whatever, as that man from the South said, let's go and 
look what we can see. I want you to show me three things — 
Bala Green, that your mother eyer and always used to talk 
about; the lake and the bell. I heard my father, hundre is 
of times, say of a safe thing that it was as sound as Bala bell." 

♦'We'll go and see the lake first, Thomas," said I, for I was 
anxious to pass quickly through the town in the direction of 
Llanycil, so as to escape notice. But that was a bigger job 
than I had thought. Thomas insisted on stopping to look at 
everything. Standing in the middle of the road, his hands 
under his coat-tails and his hat tilted back upon his nape, he 
shouted, " Ehys, wait a bit ! Let's take breath, boy! Well, 
these trees do look funny, stuck in the street, if I was never to 
move ! Here's a slap-up pub ; what's it's name, Ehys ? " 

" The White Lion," I said softly, and as a hint to Thomas to 
pitch his remarks in the same key. 

" Oh, White Lion," he rejoined at the top of his voice. 

People stopped to stare at us. Shopkeepers came to their 
doors, children crowded round us, and I felt certain, in my own 
mind, that from Thomas's great collar and strange appearance, 
they all expected to see him form a ring and turning 
somersaults in front of the hotel. I did not know what to d^, 
for shame. I felt angry with Williams who enjoyed as much 
the fix I was in as he did the doings of Thomas Bartlay, to 
whose side he stuck close. Moving on, I heard Thomas cry 
out "What's the matter with you, children? What are you 
gapin* at ? Did you never see a man before ? These aie the 
strangest lot I ever set eyes on. I hard a deal of talk about 
* little Bala children.' D'ye know what? If you don't get away, 
I'll put my stick across your backs; that I will ! Ehyd, what's 
your hurry ? Is it all one street this town is, Mr. Williams ? I 
don't see anythin' particular about it. The shops are nothin' 
to speak of, and the whole place looks quiet enough. I'd 
always thought Bala was a town full of chapels, churches, 
bells and schools. D'ye know what, Mr. Williams, here's 
another awful nice public. What's the name of this ? " 

" The Big Bull," responded Williams. 



RHYS LEWIS. 367 



•'Eather a queer name, isn't it, Mr. "Williams? Do you at 
Bala talk like they do at Bulkeley, tell us ? Little bit of Welsh 
and a little bit of English, mixed. Holloa, Squire ! Got him 
at last, you see. Can you give me a light ? " 

This " Squire " was Mr. Eice Edwards, who stood on the 
pavement in front of his house smoking. Thomas Bartley 
crossed over to him, Williams followed, and I went slowly on. 
After going a few steps I looked back and saw a strange sight. 
Mr. Edwards and Mr. Bartley looked like a couple of pigeons 
pairing. The peaks of the great collar and Mr. Edwards's 
eyes were in dangerous proximity, while the bowl of Thomas's 
pipe was held on that of Edwards's. The latter was blowing, 
his cheeks puflFed out as if he were playing a bugle, whilst the 
former was drawing, his cheeks panting in a way which 
clearly showed he had lost his jaw teeth. I perceived that the 
great object in view was to light Thomas Bartley's pipe, and I 
perceived also that Williams was holding his sides in enjoy- 
ment of the spectacle. My advice to Thomas not to smoke in 
the streets had been given in vain. I heard him first whistle 
and then shout to me: "Take time, man; the end of the 
world hasn't come yet." I was in a hurry to get out of the 
town, where evei-ybody was leering at us, and grew terribly 
savage with Williams for wilfuUy prolonging the hob-nobbing 
between Mr. Edwards and Thomas Bartley, which latter, after 
he had lit his pipe, seemed perfectly at ease. I walked rapidly 
ahead, like one distracted. Presently, I heard Thomas, at 
some distance behind, talking away in the old loud tone. 

''Baptist chapel, did you say, Mr. Williams ? Ho ! Not much 
of a place, is it ? Don't suppose they thrive very well, here ? 
To be shwar. I don't, myself, like their way of doin' things, at 
all. Only think, now, of dippin' some one like my Barbara 
yonder, troubled with rheumatis and pain in the legs ; wouldn't 
it be enough for her life ? Yes, name of goodness. I've hard— 
I don't know if it's true— but I hard that in a case of that sort 
they warms the water ; only that, to my mind, looks too much 
like killin' a pig. I much rather the Methodis' way ; though 
'twas in Church I was christened, in the year— let me see, 
DOW — I forget, but it's down in father's Bible— all our 
names is. Ehys, do you want to cut us, say ? " 



368 RHYS LEWIS, 



For all my old friend's extraordinary appearance and the 
notice it attracted, I would not have cared so mucli if he 
had not continued to talk in a shout. I was heartily glad 
when, at length, we got clear of the town. No sooner, how- 
ever, was I rid of one trouble than I found myself in another. 
When we were some hundred yards or so outside the town 
Williams gave me a dig in the ribs with his elbow, and motion- 
ed me to look ahead. I saw, coming to meet us, one of our 
teachers, who had been taking his customary stroll. ** Out of 
the frying pan into the fire," I muttered, after which I began 
thir.king how we could pass without more than a lift of the hat, 
when Thomas said : — 

'* Here, you boys ; who's this man comin' to meet us ? Isn't 
he the master ?" 

" Yes sure," replied Williams readily enough. 

" I thought so, too," rejoined Thomas. '' And a proper man 
he is, sure enough. They tell me he's very clever, and knows 
a heap of languages. I should think he does— a man can tell 
that by his looks. I've heard he's the best man of the lot 
when it comes to a push. I never heard him preach but twice, 
and I liked him oncommon. I understood every word of his 
sermon, 'cause he gave a man time to consider— not like John 
Hughes, Llangollen, poundin' away without hop or stop, and 
leavin' you behind, you didn't know where. I never saw any- 
thin' so lucky ! I must have a talk with him, so that I might 
have somethin' to tell Barbara when I get home." 

*' His time is short, Thomas," I observed, "so perhaps we 
had better pass him with only a ' good afternoon.' " 

"No danger," said Williams. " You may be sure, Thomas 
Bartley, he'll be glad to speak to you, since you're a stranger 
to Bala. And if you were to ask to be allowed to visit the 
college, I'm certain he'd give you permission, in which case 
you'd have much more to relate after going home." 

" To be shwar," cried Thomas. 

I felt mad enough to choke Williams, which he perfectly 
well knew. I saw it was no use trying to persuade Thomas 
to forego his intention, since Williams was determined to 
e^^ him on. I fairlj'' dripped with sweat, Williams with 
amusement. Even had Thomas Bartley not been in the com- 



RHYS LEWIS. 369 



pany of a couple of students, I knew his appearance would 
attract the attention of our respected teacher, whose face, long 
before we came up to him, gave indications of that sense of 
humour which the truly great-minded almost invariably 
possess. "Without giving me a chance to introduce him, my 
old friend strode forward, hat in hand, and said : — 

"How're you this long time, sir? I havent seen you since 
the Secession over yonder ; and that's years ago now ; though 
you look just the same as ever, sir." 

"Mr. Thomas Bartley, sir; one of our members who has 
come to see Bala," said I. 

" Very good," returned our Teacher. " I am pleased to see 
you, Mr. Bartley. I hope you're pleased with Bala." 

" You can't think how little I've seen of it yet, sir; only 
one street. But I should fancy, from what I've come across, it 
is a fairish place." 

"How is the cause getting on with you, these days, Mr. 
Bartley? You had a great loss in the death of Mr. Abel 
Hughes." 

" Capital, sir, capital ! Por some time after Abel died it 
was all higgledypiggledy with us, but by now it's come purty 
straight, everythin' considered. When're you comin' over our 
way to preach agen, sir ? I'd like, awful, to hear you, 'cause I 
understand every word you say. And I wish very much you'd 
teach these young people to preach a little more plain — they're 
too deep for me and my sort. D'ye know what, sir ? There 
was one of 'em there lately and I couldn't make sward or 
thatch of him. He spoke of * mechanism ' or ' unity,' or some- 
thin'— I don't remember the word, for certain — and Barbara 'n 
I could make neither horse-hair nor hobgoblin of what he said. 
I protested before David Davis I'd tell you sir, the very first 
time I saw you." 

"Well, indeed, Mr. Bartley, I have talked a deal to them on 
the subject. What we want is for some one, like yourself and 
others, with influence, to give them a word of advice, and give 
it often. It would do them a lot of good." 

" To be shwar, sir," observed Thomas. " I thought of askin' 
you, sir, would it be anythin' out of your way to let me see 
the college when you are all at it ?" 
2 A 



370 RHYS LEWIS 

**Well, perhaps Mr. Lewis will bring you to class at five 
o'clock, Mr. Bartley." 

"Thank you very much, sir; and good afternoon now, 
whatever," said Thomas. 

Hardly had we separated before Thomas turned upon his 
heel and shouted : 

"Mr. ; beg your pardon, sir; but have you such a 

thing as a match about you ? To be shwar. I don't know 
how in the world I came to leave home without one. 

I heard no more, and was afraid to turn my head. I was 
fairly boiling over with vexation, and ready to sink into the 
earth, Williams being equally ready to split his sides when 
Thomas, on rejoining him, said : "No, he hadn't one. He 
doesn't carry any, or I should have one and welcome, he 
said. But I'm bound to get a light somewhere, before long. Is 
there a house handy ? D'ye know what? He's a very decent 
man, is that master of yours. I rather 'n a crown he gived 
me leave to come to college to see you at it. I shall have so 
much more to tell Barbara when I go home." 

My debt to Thomas Bartley was a heavy one, but I would 
have been quite willing to give every farthing I possessed to 
see him turning homewards at that moment. After that per- 
mission to visit class, I did not know what humiliation was 
in store for me. It would have appeared inhospitable had I 
told him that if he came to the college he would not get home 
that night. In my native place I could have enjoyed the fun 
very well ; but in Bala it made me wretched, for I felt as if he 
were my father. Although I strove to look cheerful, Thomas 
declared I was very much down in the mouth, and was sure 
I felt annoyed about something. Williams, on the other hand, 
was at the zenith of bliss, Thomas and he being whip and top 
together, the whole time. He undertook with alacrity the duty 
of showing Thomas " the lions," and I knew he was delighted 
with the matter of fact way Thomas regarded them all. When 
we got into a good position for a full view of the lovely sheet 
of water for which Bala is famous, the most poetic sentiments 
which fell from Thomas were: "D'ye know what, Mr. Wil- 
liams ? This here lake wouldn't make a bad sea, at a pinch. I 
should think there must be a deal of fish in it. What fly do 



RHYS LEWIS. 371 



I never in my life saw a finer 
place for rarin* ducks." 

He refused to visit Llanycil churcliyard because, said he, all 
churchyards were alike. They only made him think of Seth ; 
and besides, he wauted to return to Bala to see the bell. 
Williams went to the trouble of explaining to him that it was 
in the imagination alone the famous bell had its existence; 
at any rate, he and I had failed to find it. 

'* Ho ! '* remarked Thomas. '* A bit of a skit, p'r'aps; same as 
people say that the best thing for mendin' bruises is snails' 
feet oil." 

I strove hard to delay our return, with a view to prevent 
my old neighbour and protector from visiting the class ; but 
Williams was one too many for me. He took care to land us 
back at our lodgings by half past four, when, so I afterwards 
understood, he had ordered tea to be ready. Viewing the pre- 
parations which Williams had bespoken, I saw that he had 
only done what I ought to have done, namely, given Thomas 
Bartley a welcome. I felt ashamed at my remissness, of which 
I was glad Thomas was not aware. I saw there was a danger 
of his thinking our '• provijuns,' as he called them, better than 
they really were, and that he would bruit the fact abroad, for 
there was really no stop to his tongue. Hardly had the thought 
crossed my mind before Thomas said: "D'ye know what, 
boys ? You live like fightin' cocks. But there, you'll never 
do anythin' better, for unless a man gets purty good feedin' he 
may as well shove his cards into the thatch." Thomas little 
suspected it was a " club feast " we were having that day. 

The meal was over in a few minutes, and Williams insisted 
upon going to class at once, his object, I knew, being to give the 
boys an inkling of Thomas Bartley's personality before the 
Teacher came. But I beat him this time. 

" Thomas wants a smoke, first," I observed. 

'•To be shwar," said Thomas, " if there's time." 

Williams, however, saw that we were in class at five o'clock 
to the minute. It was the class for Greek Testament study. 
Although we freshmen understood no Greek, we got, never- 
theless, all the advantages of exposition in a language we did 
understand. Nearly the whole body of students, therefore, 



372 J^BYS LEWIS. 



attended. The gathering that evening was a fairly numerous 
one. We were greeted on our entrance with deafening cheers, 
and I saw at once that Thomas Bartley's fellow-travellers, be- 
tween Corwen and Bala, had been ** up to their games again," 
as Williams would say. I had an unpleasant consciousness 
that it was not for Thomas personally the cheers were intend- 
ed, but for his mighty collar. 

Thomas gracefully bowed his acknowledgments, thereby 
eliciting another cheer, and then sat down, between Williams 
and myself. Williams almost immediately got to his feet, and 
said, " Mr. Thomas Hartley, gentlemen, a friend of Mr. Rhys 

Lewis's ," but before he could say another word, the 

Teacher came in ; and lo, a great silence fell over all. 

" D'ye know ? " murmured Thomas in my ear. *• There's a 
wonderful lot of you, and you are so much alike ; all 'cept that 
man with the crooked nose. What is he ? A pupil teacher ? " 

Thomas nodded to the Teacher as if he were an old chum. 
The nod was courteously responded to, and the Teacher turned 
bis face away. I noticed the back of his neck flushed crimson, 
as if suddenly sunburnt. The work of the class was proceeded 
with for about twenty minutes. For the first five, Thomas 
looked on curiously and critically, like a man who adjudicates 
in a musical competition ; for the next five, he seemed a bit 
patronising; during the third, he gave signs of considerable 
uneasiness, and said to me, softly : ' ' Will you be much long- 
er ?" After that he subsided into his great collar, whence I 
feared every moment he would snore. The boys all the time 
kept throwing furtive glances at Thomas, Williams and my- 
self, and making faces which spoke volumes. I much feared, 
I repeat, that Thomas would begin to snore, and possibly it 
was the like fear that made the Teacher, at the expiration of 
twenty minutes, address us in English to the efl'ect follow- 
ing:— 

' * Perhaps we had better leave off there. You see that Mr. 
Lewis, with my permission, has brought a friend with him to 
the class this evening. This is an unusual thing, and must not 
be looked upon as establishing a precedent. But I thought 
that Mr. Lewis's friend might give you, as preachers, a word 
of advice. Words of wisdom are not to be despised, from what- 



RHYS LEWIS, 373 



ever quarter they come. I was observing, Mr. Bartley," he 
went on, in Welsh— Thomas awaking and getting up from hii 
collar, as who should say, "yes, that's my name" — "I was 
telling these young men that you might have a word of advice 
for them. Will you say something, Mr. Bartley ? The young 
men of to-day need a great deal of talking to." 

•' You never saw a poorer hand at sayin' a thing," responded 
Thomas. •* But I don't care to be odd and disobedient. I've 
hard much talk about Bala, sir ; and when Ehys, here, came 
to you — his mother and I were great friends ; it was she 
brought me to religion, and I knew nothin' till she began ex- 
poundin* to me, and she was a wonderful ooman. I told her, 
many times, if she'd happened to belong to the Ranters, she'd 
make a champion preacher (cheers). Wait a bit now ; 
what was I goin' to say ? 0, yes ! When Rhys came to you, 
I determined I'd run up and see Bala, some day ; so this morn- 
in', as I was giviu' the pig his food (cheers), says I to myself, 
now for it. From Corwen to Bala I had a ride with some of 
the young preachers here, and I wai surprised, sir. I always 
used to tbink the students was poor things, with their heads 
in their feathers, half broken hearted and half starvin' their- 
selves. But I never saw decenter boys. They weren't a bit 
like preachers, they were so powerful funny. D'ye know, sir, 
Mr. Williams here (placing his hand on that personage's 
shoulder) can act you to the life. If I'd only shut my eyes I 
wouldn't have known but 'twas your very own self." 

At this point there were thunders of applause, participated 
in by all save Williams, who reddend to the roots of his hair. 
I was not sorry to see him thus put into the pot, for, in the 
course of that afternoon, he had enjoyed himself more thau 
once at my expense. For a second or two Thomas looked as it 
he could not make out the meaning of the plaudits ; as if he did 
not know whether it was a good hit or a big mistake he had 
made. After slightly hesitating, he added — "It's as true as 
the Paternoster, sir." This brought on another burst of 
applause which confirmed Thomas in the notion that he had 
said something transcendently fine ; so, he went on : 

'•But I must tell them to their faces, sir: I don't see they 
are so clever as all that at preachin*. I confess I'm a bit dull 



374 RHYS LEWIS. 



— I was old comin' to religion — and 1 11 'low it's but few of 'era 
I'ye heard preach, and p'r'aps those weren't the best. When 
you preach, sir, I understands you, champion ; but to tell the 
truth, honest, I couldn't make horse-hair nor hobgoblin of the 
students yonder; and Barbara couldn't do anythin' in the 
blessed earth with 'em. They don't talk enough about Jesus 
Christ, sir, and heaven. A man like myself has a pui-ty fair 
grip of that. There was one of 'em over there who spoke 
more'n enough of * mechanism,' or some' at like that, but I 
knew no more than a mountain hurdle what he meant. Rhys 
told me you didn't teach 'em to preach, sir ; which is an awful 
pity. I know you're wiser nor me, but if I was you, sir, I'd 
make 'em preach before you— one every week — and when he 
had done, I'd show him where he had failed, and if he didn't do 
as you told him, I'd give him the sack. It's by preachin* 
Welsh the boys expect to get their livin', and it's no good larnin* 
the languages of people who've been dead hundreds of years if 
they can't preach in a language which everybody as is now 
alive understands. That's my opinion, sir, but p'r'aps I'm 
wrong ; 'cause all I have is a grip of the letters. I'm surprised 
it's in an empty house j'ou keep school, and I'm glad, now I've 
seen you, that I gave half a sovrin to the sickly little man who 
came about coUectin' for a new school. That was one of the 
noblest men I ever saw with my eyes, sir. He told me it was 
from Bala we got all our crowin' cocks, and I never hear the 
young ones in our court-yard without thinkin' of his words. 
If you've noticed, sir, it's a queer enough clamour young cocks 
make, for four months or so, if there isn't an old un there to 
set 'em a pattern. But, whether or no, they come little by 
little to tune it lovely. I takes a bit of interest in fowls, sir— as 
Ehys knows — and, to me, the most disagreeable thing on 
earth is those chicks which you can't tell whether they're 
cocks or hens. If they don't show purty quick what they are, 
I chop their heads off. Well, I'm glad from my heart to see 
you all so comfortable, and I hope you'll forgive me for takin* 
up so much of your time." 

Thomas resumed his seat amidst loud and long-continued 
applause. 

'•What's the meanin' of these cheers, Mr, Williams?" I 
heard him ask. " Did I speak middlin' tidy ? " 



FHYS LEWIS, 375 



•• Capital ! " replied Williams. 

•*Well, Mr. Bartley," observed the Teacher, **Imuch hope 
the young men will attend to the pointed observations, and act 
upon the valuable advice you have given them. When next 
the students preach with you, take careful note whether any 
improvement has taken place. If they do not show clearly 
whether they are hens or cocks, let us know, Mr. Bartley, so 
that we may cut their heads oflF." 

Amidst tumultuous applause the Teacher shook hands with 
Thomas Bartley and went away. Directly he had left the room 
one of the students got up and locked the door. 

'* What's goin' to happen, now ? " Thomas asked. 

**I don't know," I replied. Neither did I, but I could see 
there was something up. 

"Friends," promptly said D. H., of Aberdaron — the same of 
whom Thomas had asked whether he was a pupil teacher — '* it 
appears that the talk of * mechanism,' referred to by Mr. 
Bartley, is not the only fault of which we, as students, have 
been guilty ; although there is a close connection between 
• mechanism ' and that which I wish to bring before you. It 
would seem that our brother of Flintshire, in return- 
ing from an appointment this morning, by unpardonable 
negligence and want of skill has occasioned and caused a valu- 
able horse of Mr. Eice Edwards' to have a fall, which broke its 
knees, whereby great loss has been entailed upon the said Mr. 
Eice Edwards, and dreadful pain upon the said horse. It is 
not meet we should look lightly upon an act of this kind. Let 
us enquire into the case. According to the rules now in force 
with us, we must place our brother upon his trial. I will act 
as judge ; Mr. Y. P. will be prosecutor, and, so that the accused 
may have every fair play, Mr. Ehys Lewis, who comes from 
the same county, shall defend him. I nominate and appoint 
Mr. Thomas Bartley as foreman of the jury, and Mr. John 
Jones as interpreter." 

" Tell us, is it in earnest or in jest he is speakin' ? " Thomas 
inquired. 

"In jest," replied I. 

•' Ho ! a bit of a skit, eh ? " he rejoined cheerfully. 



376 RHYS LEWIS. 



In mnch less time than it takes me to write, the trial was in 
full swing. I do not wish to attempt a particular description, 
although I could furnish one. The accused looked like an 
accused — dejected. D. H., the judge, sat in the teacher's 
chair on top of the table, with a white handkerchief bound 
about his head for a wig. To all appearance Thomas Bartley 
fully realised the dignity of his office of foreman, and lost never 
a word of the pleadings. V. P., gifted and eloquent, made an 
incomparable prosecutor. He called several witnesses to 
character, on the horse's behalf, who testified to its being a 
trustworthy animal, altogether unlikely to go upon its knees, 
except from the inexcusable negligence of the rider. I failed 
completely to shake their evidence with regard to the animal's 
general health and soundness of limb. With the students, and 
them alone, I shook off the restraint I had been in during the 
afternoon, and threw myself heart and soul into the defence of 
my co-countyman. But all to no purpose ; it was a bad case, 
and every witness was in favour of the horse. The trial lasted 
an hour and a half, much amusement being derived from the 
witnesses' refusal to speak English, and so compelling Mr. 
John Jones, whose command of Saxon was the poorest of the 
lot, to interpret. I made the best speech I could in my client's 
behalf, conscious all the time that I hadn't a leg to stand on, 
and that my only hope lay in the sympathies of Thomas 
Bartley as foreman of the jury. My arguments were pulver- 
ised by the judge when he came to sum up. I fancy it must 
have been the weakness of my defence which caused his lord- 
ship to go out of his way to gi^e the accused a chance of adding 
something on his own account to that which I had already 
urged, before the jury retired to consider their verdict. 

In a silence like the grave's, the defendant was heard saying : 
"A bad indictment, my lord. It was a mare I had, not a 
horse." 

The scene which ensued is still vividly present to my mind. 
Completely overcome with laughter, some of the boys lay 
stretched on the benches, while others rolled about the floor. 
Thomas Bartley stood on one of the forms waving his hat and 
shouting with all his might as if he were at an election. The 
meeting broke up in convulsions. On the way to our lodgings, 



RHYS LEWIS. 377 



I had the greatest difficulty in preventing Thomas from 
crying out and attracting the notice of the inhabitants. Every 
now and then he would pause and remark, "As good as 

M LI of Ruthin, spite of chin and teeth ; of chin and 

teeth, if I was never to move. D'ye know what ? That's the 
jolliest gatherin' I ever was at ; but as for the first part of it, it 
was the flattest affair I ever saw with my eyes. I couldn't 
make out what in the blessed earth was going on. Where's 
Mr. Williams sneaked off to, eh ? Don't you see him awful 
like your brother Bob ? What have you on foot for to-morrow 
night ? I'd like wonderful well to be with you a week, only I 
must sail home, or Barbara '11 be in a fit." 

When I explained to Thomas it was impossible he could 
return till next day, he trembled to think of Barbara spending 
a whole night by herself. But he had to submit to the inevi- 
table ; which he did with the repeated observation that he was 
sorry he had not brought Barbara along ** just as she was." 
When Williams made his appearance, with three of the other 
students, he was consoled not a little. I saw that my fellow 
lodger was determined to make the most of Thomas Bartley. 
There were six of us packed into a small room at supper that 
night. The meal was the great thing with Thomas Bartley ; 
Thomas Bartley the great thing with the guests. If I had not 
gone to too great lengths already, 1 would give a summary of 
the conversation. The boys enjoyed themselves hugely ; but the 
sigh he every now and then gave vent to, clearly showed 
Thomas's thoughts to be with Barbara at the Tump. His stay 
with us over night caused a considerable change in the 
sleeping arrangements. At cock-crow next morning, I heard 
Thomas walking to and fro and shouting " Get up, you folk. 
It's quite middle day." And we got never a minute's peace 
till we had obeyed. Thomas had to meet the first train at 
Corwen; so, when the clock struck six, he, Williams and 
myself, were crossing Tryweryn bridge in Mr. Eice Edwards's 
carriage. Before bidding each other farewell, Thomas took 
me aside and said, '* how's the pocket stand, my son ? " 

*' I've not been hard up, as yet, Thomas," I replied. 

*' Here you are," said he ; '* take the loan of this for ever;" 
and he forced a sovereign into my hand. Blessings on him \ 



378 RBYS LEWIS. 



It was not the only sovereign I had from him whilst at Bala. 
After a pressing invitation to Williams to come and spend a 
week at the Tump, Thomas went home to relate the history of 
Bala and the college. And such a history ! After that visit, 
Thomas, of course, knew all about the students. I could tell 
from his question, *• What have you on foot to-morrow 
night?" that he thought the scene he "saw with his own 
eyes " on that Monday evening in college, was a specimen of 
what took place there daily. Little did he know that a 
"trial" of the kind I have described, happened only once in 
two or three years, and that what he had termed " the most 
miserable thing on the face of the earth " was our regular 
employment. The long hours and hard labour, the fear and 
vexation of spirit, of which every student knows something, 
never crossed his innocent soul. 

Thomas Bartley, more the pity, is not the only one who 
entertains an erroneous impression of a collegiate life. I have 
gathered, from observations heard in divers parts of the 
country, that some people who should know better, cherish 
opinions quite as foolish in kind, if not in degree. 



CHAPTER XXXYIII. 

A FORTUNATE ENCOUNTER. 

As far as learning was concerned, I believe I was as 
*' disinterested" as almost any one who ever attended college. 
During the four years I was at Bala, I allowed the other boys 
to take all the prizes. Not being particularly talented, and 
the ** start" I got in Soldier Robin's school being none of the 
best, I speedily found it was no easy task to compete with 
young fellows who had been well educated previously. 
Besides, preaching was a necessity, for my stay at college 
depended upon it. If I ceased preaching, I must also cease 
eating ; and, at the time, I could not see my way clear to do 
either the one thing or the other. The Sabbath journevs were 



RHYS LEWIS. 379 



oftenest long ones, as to Trawsfynydd, Festiniog, Tanygrisiau, 
Maentwrog, Rhydymain, Corris, Aberllyfni, Machynlleth, &c. 
It was only once I ever preached at Llanfor, for which Edward 
Rowland reproached nie many times (peace to the memory of 
the good old Christian !) the chief reason being that I could 
not travel thither, and also because I did not like to see a dozen 
students coming to Llanfor to meeting instead of attending 
Sunday School at Bala. Each one of them had his own tap© 
measure. The fan they got on one occasion when a friend of 
mine, preaching at Llanfor, spoke of Adam in his " uncircum- 
cised condition !" He never heard the last of it, as long as he 
remained at Bala. What did I know but that I might make a 
similarly foolish slip, which next morning would be posted up 
on every partition of the college. But I must not speak of the 
old college's partitions — Mirahih Visu ! 1 said that the journeys 
were long. The distance took up the whole of Saturday morn- 
ing to think about, and the journey itself the whole of the 
afternoon to accomplish ; the return occupied the whole of 
Monday morning, and the pulling myself together after that 
shaking from a ride on one of Mr. R. E's " old sixteens" the 
whole of Monday afternoon. That made two days of ray week, 
without mentioning the Sabbath, on which the other boys who 
were not bound to preach were at work with their books. These 
things, combined with a lack of natural talent, prevented me 
from distinguishing myself in the examinations. On the other 
hand, the trouble my brother Bob took to instruct me, my 
own exertions and my resolve to attend the classes as regular- 
ly as possible, kept me from the bottom of the form. I had the 
consolation of not being an extreme man ; at no time was I at 
either top or bottom, but somewhere about the centre. And 
I flatter myself that I continue so, and that I still endeavour to 
walk the middle path in judgment. But it is to this I have for 
some time been gravitating : although I did not make my 
"mark "in college, I am certain that a mark was made on 
me which can never be erased. I got the greatest good from 
my stay there, learned hundreds and thousands of things I did 
not know before, and of which I cannot now estimate the 
value. A new world was opened to my mind, and although I 
was not as others were, able to penetrate far into its mid-most 



38o RHYS LEWIS. 



regions, etill, it was a discoyery to know it existed. It was 
something to be able to see with my own eyes the leaf upon 
the water. It is worth a lad's while to go to college, if it wore 
only to let him know how much there is to know, to rub the 
rust and shake the dust off which he had gathered at home. I 
am not saying much when I mention that there was not in the 
church I was brought up in one lad, Will Bryan excepted, who 
was stronger than myself in natural insight ; and it would be 
sheer hypocrisy for me to say that the fact did not cause me to 
form a distinctiye notion concerning myself. But after going to 
college I was not long in finding out that I was nothing and 
nobody, and that among my fellow students many a man 
might be found who could put me into his waistcoat pocket. 
My hide would have been as hard as the hippopotamus's not to 
have received any benefit by rubbing against those who ex- 
celled me in every way. If a young man can spend three or 
four years in college and come home again, without great gain 
to himself, the fault is his own entirely, and he does not de- 
serve to be fed. My experience of the period is that it was the 
most blessed and happy of my life ; and I look back upon it 
with the sweetest regret. Many were the friendship's knots I 
tied there which neither time nor distance can undo. With 
but little efi'ort my memory can vividly recall before my 
minds eye, at the present moment, the faces of all my 
companions. Where are they now ? One or two of them 
were taken home before the end of their college term ; 
and one or two others followed without being permitted to 
'*do" but little. The majority, however, remain scattered 
up and down the world. Several, appointed pastors of flocks, 
are already useful— famous, some of them— in the ministry, 
while others shift for themselves as best they can, preach- 
ing here and there on the Sabbath, " and doing nothing 
in particular during the week. Speaking of this matter, I re- 
member that, as the time drew near when we must leave 
college, the question most of us asked each other was : What 
are you going to do ? It was an important question, to some 
of us especially. We had given up our old occupations, which 
by now we were unfitted to resume. It was not all of us who 
had comfortable homes to return to, or wealthy relations on 



RHYS LEWIS. 381 

whom we could depend; and divers of us, as the time 
approached, found ourselves in a serious fix. Notably was 
this the case with me. During my four years of college life 
Miss Hughes was wondrous kind in asking me to spend vaca- 
tion time at her house. But I foresaw that the circumstances 
would be different after I had finished my course, or rather 
after I had left college. Even if she were willing to receive 
me again into her home, I considered it would be shameless 
presumption to take advantage of the fact. I could not bear 
the notion of playing the part of gentleman-idler during the 
week, and going about to preach upon the Sunday. Williams, 
my fellow-lodger, was precisely in the same predicament, and 
many were the serious *' confabs " between us as to what we 
were going to do. At times he would treat the question jocu- 
larly. 

•' What wonder is it, tell us," he said to me one night, "that 
Methodist preachers should cast about them for some old gal 
with plenty of tin ? Look at us two : we shall be leaving Bala 
within the month, and what are we to do for a livelihood ? I 
swear no one shall say of me that I did nothing through 
the week besides wearing a frock coat. I see you have a much 
better chance than I. Four years in college has so spoiled my 
hands that I needn't think of re-commencing my old occupa- 
tion, but as for you, you can put an advertisement in the 
Liverpool Mercury : — 

Waited— By a young man who has spent four years at col- 
lege, who knows a little Latin and Greek, and a lot of Divinity, 
a situation as draper's assistant. Can preach well. Salary no 
object, provided he gets his Saturdays to go to, and his Mon- 
days to return from his teithia,* 

*' As for me, I see nothing left me to do but to try for a situa- 
tion on the railway as ticket collector, unless I ' go out to the 
Blacks,* as your old friend Thomas Bartley says. What if you 
were to try and creep up the sleeve of the Bishop of St. Asaph, 
and I were to do the same with the Bishop of Bangor, eh ? It 

• Sabbath journeying. —Tei.nsli.toB' 



382 RHYS LEWIS. 



would be no great feat for a couple of laths like you and lue to 
creep up a Bishop's sleeve, for they tell me it's dreadfully 
wide. If we succeeded, I wonder are we scholars enough, 
without having to begin this business all over again at Lam- 
peter ? Scholar or not, we'll preach better than half of them. 
What do you say ? Have you any other plan ? " 

"Williams possessed a good deal of sly humour ; and I could 
not help laughing at his picture of our future, despite the im- 
portance of the subject and my sadness of heart. As the time 
approached for us to leave college, the question came home to 
us both with greater seriousness daily — '• If we are obliged to 
return to our old occupations, to what earthly purpose have we 
spent four years in this place ?" We were both anxious for a 
sphere of work where each would feel in his element, and to 
which we believed — whether rightly or wrongly— that we were, 
to some extent, adapted. But although, to tell the honest 
truth, we were both intently on the watch, there was neither 
souiid nor sign, from any quarter, of a call to the care of a 
church. We had devoted ourselves to, and humbly thought our- 
selves set apart for, the work in which our hearts and souls 
were centred ; and the thought of going back to our old occu- 
pations was depressing. But, as far as*I could see, nothiiig 
else awaited us; for we were resolved not to lounge about alter 
leaving college. Williams was more hopeful than I ; as easily 
he could be, because I knew he was conscious of the fact that 
he was an excellent preacher ; the best, indeed, the college at 
that time contained, to my mind. The '* friends of the place " 
must have been of the same opinion, too ; for Williams 
preached twice in Bala itself during his four years' stay there 
— a sure sign for good and an unfailing promise of a bright 
future. 

But, after all, the word is a true one that *' the last shall be 
first." Some weeks before I left Bala 1 received two important 
letters— that is, important to me. Williams was an early riser, 
I a late sleeper. In passing, is not the ability to rise early a 
talent ? I am certain it is. My brother Bob was bound to go 
early to work every day ; but he never turned out of bed with- 
out being called a dozen times by mother. He could, however, 
stay up at night as long as you liked. I am just the same. 



RHYS LEWIS. 385 



But Williams had a talent for rising early. One morning, 
Bome weeks before leaving college, as I have said, I came 
downstairs about eight o'clock, to find that Williams had gone 
out for a stroll. On the table were two letters awaiting me. I 
recognised the writings on both— one as that of Miss Hughes, 
and the other as "Eos Prydain's." I gave precedence, always, 
to Miss Hughes's letter. Opening this one, I found that it 
enclosed another in a hand wholly strange to me. It was in 
English, and as follows : — 



Old Bailey, B- 



May Ist, 18 . 

Sir,— There died this morning in our gaol, a man named 
John Freeman. Six weeks ago, having been found guilty of 
poaching, he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment, 
with hard labour. He was never strong from the outset, and 
shortly after coming here he took cold and rapidly became 
worse. A few days before his death, he expressed a desire to 
speak to me privately. I had fancied from the first that h© 
was "an old bird;" and he at length admitted tome that 
his real name was James Lewis. He requested me— and I 
promised— to apprise you of his death, whenever that took 
place. What he specially wished me to make known to you 
was that everything he had told you was not true. He did not 
know your address, but he believed you would get the letter 
some time, directed as I have directed it. I have now fulfilled 
my promise to the deceased. He will be buried to-morrow. 
We should have buried him to-day, only we were short of 
coffins, and I did not think he was going to die so soon. 

Yours truly, 

J. F. Beeece, Oovernor, 

£hys Lewis, Esq. 

I read and re-read the letter, in stupefaction. My uncle 
James, as I have many times said in the course of this history, 
had been the moving cause of the most of my troubles, and I 
detested him heartily. And yet, on reading of his disgraceful 
end, and of his words to the governor, a pang shot through me 
fiuch as I will not attempt to describe. I held the letter in my 



384 RHYS LEWIS. 



hand, and looked, amazed, through the window into Tegid 
Street— for how long I do not exactly know— my mind revert- 
ing to my earliest impressions of my uncle, when I knew him 
as •' the Irishman." De Quincey somewhere speaks of a man 
who fell oyerboard into the sea. He remained under water 
only a very few seconds, but, when picked up and he became 
conscious, he averred that all the events and all the sins of his 
life came vividly to his mind during those few seconds. I, for 
my part, believe I was no more than half an hour staring out 
of window, but in that time there passed before my mind 
the chief events of my life in the order of their occurrence. I 

knew Mrs. had been in the room laying the breakfast, 

and had said something to me, but I could not tell what ; and 
I remember it was "Williams who broke my reverie by shouting 
from behind me : ** Well, you Seventh Sleeper, have you got up 
at last ? What bad news to-day ? You seem as miserable as 
if you were at the grave of your grandmother ! " I tried to 
rouse myself and look cheerful. After beginning upon the 
breakfast I recollected Eos's letter. It ran thus : — 

, May Ut, 18 

Dear Brother, — We understand your term at Bala is 
nearly at an end. It is needless for us to tell you, who know the 
history and the circumstances of Bethel Church as well as we 
do, that the cause suffers for want of some one to take care of 
it, especially since the death of your old master, Abel Hughes. 
We have long felt that our children and young people do not 
receive that care and attention which they ought to receive. 
We have for some time been talking of getting a pastor ; and, 
last week, we two brought the question before the church and 
took the liberty of mentioning your name as of one whose 
college course was nearly at an end and who, having been 
bred in the church, knew us well. The hint received a very 
general approval. Of course, we did not take a vote, not 
having yet got permission from the Monthly Meeting ; but we 
thought it wise to inform you that it is our intention to apply 
for the same— indeed you may look upon it as settled that we 
shall— lest you thoughtlessly promised to go elsewhere. Wo 
believe you need not fear that anyone here will think the less 



RHYS LEWIS. 385 

of you because of your youth. We expect to see you over in 
a few weeks, when we shall discuss the matter further. Until 
then, wishing you every success, and with kind regards, — Yours 
on behalf of the church, 

David Davis, \ 

Alexander Phillips, [> Deacons. 
( Eus FrydainJ, ) 

I tossed the letter across the table to Williams, whose joy on 
reading it I shall never forget. I am certain he could i:ot have 
manifested greater delight if some one had left him an estate. 
The call to the pastorate of the church I was brought up in was 
as unexpected an event as could have happened. I took it as 
a great compliment to myself, and, but for the other letter to 
which I have referred, would have regarded this one as a sub- 
ject of rejoicing also. But, bracketed with that letter, it was 
very sad news for me, and brought on an attack of my old 
enemy — lowness of spirits. I sent word at once to my old 
friends, David Davis and '♦ Eos Prydain," thanking them for 
their kind letter and adding that I should be returning home in 
a few weeks' time. After doing so, I said to my companion : 

*' Williams, don't mention this to the boys or anybody else; 
because on no consideration can I accept the call." 

"Don't talk nonsense," he returned. "I'll mention it to 
all I come across. What's the matter with you ? Are you off 
your head ? Not accept what you were most wishing for ! I 
used to thdnk you couldn't bounce." 

When he and I were playful, we " thee'd and "thou'd" 
each other ; but always when we spoke seriously it was " you " 
and " yourself." That morning Williams was joyous, I sad. 

" You know the story of the skeleton in the cupboard," I 
observed. " 1, too, have a tale which I cannot unfold, even to 
you. Possibly I shall tell it some day, but not now. I am 
dispirited and sad ; and I know you would like to share my 
burden with me, but it can't be to-day. The fact is, I must go 
away for two or three days, and that without delay." 

" My dear fellow," said Williams, feelingly, for he had a 
very tender heart; " you are telling me nothing new. I have 
known for some time there was a concealed bitterness about 
2 B 



386 RHYS LEWIS. 



your life of which I had no right to seek the explanation. Can 
I be of any service to you ?" 

*• You can— do not say a "word about this call of mine, for I 
cannot accept it. Also, if you please, go to E. E. and ask him 
to send a conveyance after me, along the Corwen road. T am 
bound to leave at once. Perhaps I shall explain all this to you 
some day." 

Taking nothing with me but my top coat, and the little money 
I possessed, I left; Williams, without another word, going 
off to order the carriage. It was a long journey, which would 
occupy nearly the whole day ; but I was determined to go, 
being tired of wearing a mask and living in fear. I was speedily 
caught up by E. E., who drove me to Corwen in good time to 
lose the train. After a long wait, I welcomed the loneliness of 
the railway carriage, wherein I could give the rein to my 
thoughts without being obliged to speak to anybody. Hund- 
reds and thousands of things passed through my mind. I read 
Mr. Breece's letter over and over. Sometimes I thought it a 
forgery ; my uncle being villain enough for that. But what 
purpose such a forgery could answer I was not able to see. 

If the letter stated a fact, I persuaded myself I understood 
the meaning of the sentence, ** everything he had told you was 
not true." The words opened up a possibility which turned 
my heart to ice, in view of which I saw that I could not accept 
the call to the pastorate of Bethel. To me it was surprising 
that a church, of which half the members were cognisant of 
the history of my family, should have given such a call. But, 
in the course of two and twenty years, people will forget a good 
deal. During that period many things were made known to 
me, to my sorrow, of which the chapel folk were utterly igno- 
rant. I could not help my family connections ; but were the 
sins of the fathers to be vis/'ied upon the children in my case ? 
I feared they were. Was Providence leading me to settle down 
in my old home in order to set my teeth on edge for the sour 
fruit whereof my predecessors had eaten ? How could I think 
of accepting the call ? And yet, what reason could I give for 
refusing ? I had no other place to go to, although I longed 
for an excuse to go far enough away — to Australia or some- 
where. Again, I had neither part nor lot in the making of my 



RHYS LEWIS. 387 



iinhappiness. I sometimes thought I was magnifying the terrors 
of the outlook and fearing that which would never come to pass. 
At any rate, I vowed that day to get whatever of light there was 
obtainable upon the thing which bestrode me like an ever-present 
nightmare ; and this 1 hoped to accomplish before giving 
slumber to my eyelids. My intention was to pay a visit to 
Mr. J. F. Breece, be he whom he might. If the letter were 
not a decoy, it might turn out that my uncle had told the 
writer a great deal more than had been communicated to me. 
I saw that my journey would not be altogether in vain, which- 
ever way it happened; and my anxiety had by now been 
worked up to such a pitch that I could not hold out much 
longer. If my fears were realised, then my future would be 
clouded over once more, and I could not accept the call to the 
pastorate of Bethel church. Not only so, but I dreaded that, 
before I could be happy, I must leave the land of my birth. 
But, I reflected again, why must I do this ? I had endeavour- 
ed to keep a conscience for God, and, if the worst came to the 
worst, no reasonable man could blame me for it. But, said I, 
■ everybody would be pitying me and sympathising with me, 
which would be every bit as bad. "What ! was it pride of heart 
that made me tremble at that which was possible and probable ? 
Had I not enough religion and moral courage to bear any dis- 
grace with which, as originator, I had personally nothing to 
do ? And yet, something would persist in reminding me that 
blood was thicker than water. 

I had never previously been to B , and knew nothing 

about the place save from hearsay, a fact which had no 
tendency to lighten my spirit. The day, also, was dull and 
heavy, and the rain descended in one continuous drizzle. Be- 
sides this, fate seemed to be against me, for I lost the train, a 
second time, at Chester where I had to wait two hours before 
I got another. I now saw it would bo late when I reached 

B , and feared I would not be able to see Mr. Breece. 

Sick enough at heart, I arrived at the big, bustling town. It 
was nearly ten o'clock when I sprang upon the platform. I 
awoke from my dreams on seeing the multitude of lighted 
lamps and the crowd of passengers darting hither and thither 
through the station. Was it too late to wait on Mr. Breece ? Well, 



388 A/IYS LEWIS. 



I should be none the worse for trying. I rapidly made my 
way to the cab-stand, but before reaching it I was met by a 
sprightly young fellow who accosted me with the words, ** Cab, 
sir ?" 

I nodded in the affirmative. 

** Old Bailey," said I, taking my seat; to which he replied, 
*• Old Bailey ? Know it well, sir. Better be outside than in- 
side that place, as the worm said to the blackbird when he was 
about to be swallowed," saying which he banged the door and 
away we went. 

The rattle of carriages along the streets was simply deafen- 
ing to one who had newly left the quiet of Bala. Looking out, 
I was astonished at the interminable stream of humanity going 
and coming on either side of us. A glance at one side alone, 
for a few minutes, took in hundreds of faces which I saw for 
the first time and the last, every one of whom, methought, had 
his story and his trouble, as strange to me as mine were to him. 
Though the lamps and the other lights were numerous, they 
served but to show up the dirty fog which filled the streets. I fan- 
cied that what of smoke had ascended from the chimneys during 
the day had now come back to keep company with the drizzle, 
of which there was a ceaseless downpour. I perceived that the 
principal business establishments were shut, thus bringing into 
prominence the small tobacco-selling shops, the public houses, 
and the gin-shops, which seemed busier and livelier than they 
could have been at mid-day. I do not think I passed a single 
"vault" or gin-shop without seeing someone going in or 
coming out. Out of one reeled a soldier, in a red coat, and, 
close behind him a woman, bonnetless, but with a shawl about 
her head, pinned under the chin. Passing another place, I 
saw a man, of whom it was difficult to tell whether he were old 
or young ; but he was lame, and so very ragged that I believed 
he had not a whole pocket about him, and that he had to 
keep his money in his fist until he had deposited it upon the 
counter. At one public house, a man leaned his back against 
the door-post, his chin resting on his waistcoat, and his eyes 
looking as if they were engaged counting the buttons of his 
breeches; and by another a fribble in a frock coat— buttoned up 
to the throat and hiding a multitude of sins— sniffing the per- 



RHYS LEWIS. 389 



fume near the doorway, in default of any better enjoyment. 
The hideous faces I saw that night in the light of those taverns! 
Had their owners, tifty years back, been shut up to half 
starve in dark cells, from which they had only recently been 
able to escape, some through the chimney and others through 
the key hole ? How proud I felt of the Welsh, red-cheeked, 
healthy, honest ! 

This was what was running through my mind when I noticed 
that the lights became fewer. I looked out, and there was 
nothing to be seen but great warehouses, silent and dark. 
Hardly a soul walked the streets now, and nothing was to be 
heard save the rumble of my conveyance and someone 
whistling. The whistler seemed to be following me. I put my 
head out to listen, and found it was my driver. I recognised 
the tune ; it was our old " Caersalem," which, until then, I did 
not know was in vogue with the English. I held my head out, 
feeling as if I were in a "Welsh chapel and fancying that I heard 
the words : *" Thanks be to Him, For rememb'ring the earth's 
dust." 

I settled it in my own mind that cabby was in the habit 
of attending chapel. "We soon got into a gloomy quarter of the 
town. I began to think it was very foolish of me to expect to 
see Mr. Breece at a time like that. Directly, I saw a great, 
high, thick wall which, by the light of our lamps, looked black 
with age. A minute after, my cab drew up before a wide gate- 
way, of which the entire surface was almost covered with nail- 
heads. Beside it hung an unusually large lamp, from a bracket 
fixed in the strong wall. 

'* Here we are, safe and sound," said the driver, opening the 
door for me. He stood with his back to the light, which shone 
in my face, and was about to put out his hand for his fare when 
he started back and, with a surprised look at me, said, — 

•' Holloa, old hundredth ! Are you yourself, say ? " 

My heart ga\e a jump, and I came near hugging the fellow, 
who was none other than the friend of my youth, "Will Bryan I 
Before I could exchange a dozen words with him, however, a 
small door, set in the big one of the Old Bailey prison, opened, 
and out stepped a tall, round-shouldered man, behind whom 
the door was closed with a bang. He was bound to pass us. 



39© RHYS LEWIS. 



Tvhich be did without looking at us, and keeping his eyes tipon 
the ground. He could not, however, escape the lamplight. 
When he was out of hearing Will Bryan said : — 

" I'm blowed if that chap isn't old Nic'las ! " 

•'You are right. Will," I returned. "Nic'las it is, sure 
enough. For my sake, follow him and find out where ho goes 
to, even if it took you two hours, and come back here. You 
shall know the reason again. I, for my part, will try and dis- 
charge my errand, but whether I succeed or not I shall remain 
here until you return." 

" At your service as detective in chief," cried Will, in his 
old form of speech, as, jumping upon his cab, he drove off. 

I gazed after him for some seconds, but he was quickly out 
of sight. Turning upon my heel, I rang lustily at the bell of 
the gaol. But I see it will take another chapter to relate the 
adventures of that strange night of my history. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

"WILL BRYAN IN HIS CASTLE. 

I RANG the Old Bailey bell vigorously, as I have said. I felt 
agitated and sad, and the unexpected appearances of Will 
Bi-yan and old Nic'las did not lessen, in the slightest, the 
multitude of my thoughts. Promptly, in response to the 
summons. I heard someone walk up at a brisk pace, the jingle 
of his keys denoting his important, though unenviable, office. 
A minute later the door was opened, and the light of a lamp, 
carried by the opener, blazed across my face, almost blinding me. 

"Who was I?" " What did I want ? " 

" Was the governor in ? " 

" He was." 

"Could I see him?" 

" I could, if my business was important." 

" 0, certainly." 

"Good. Come in I'* 



J^HYS LEWIS. 391 



I was led into a small, square room, in which there were but 
a table and two chairs, and there left by my guide, who 
pulled-to the self- locking door behind him. I waited, in fear 
and trembling, the call to the governor's presence ; although it 
was with that very object I had come all the way. Mr. 
Prichard, the keeper of Flint prison, was the only gaoler I had 
ever seen, and I remembered that he had a look before which 
«ven the innocent trembled in their shoes. The fuming 
authority his face showed ! How his sharp, wild eye pierced 
one through, scraping up his very back bone ! I never heard 
of anybody committed to Flint gaol whom Mr. Prichard's look 
did not terrify, old Ned James excepted. When Ned was sent 
up for the second time, Mr. Prichard shouted in his ear, 
•' Well, Ned! Ned 1 1 Ned!I! Have you come here again, then?" 
" I never was in a place in my life which I couldn't go to 
afterwards," replied Ned, with perfect self-possession. If Mr. 
Prichard, the keeper of Flint prison, thought I, carried such 
terror in his looks, how much more so the keeper of the Old 
Bailey ? The door opened, and, with trembling limbs, I was 
ushered into the presence of Mr. Breece. But the trembling 
was needless. Mr. Breece did not resemble Mr. Prichard in 
the slightest. He was a little, delicate, harmless looking man. 
Mrs. Breece was in the room at the time, knitting. She was a 
large, stout lady, of pleasing appearance, to whom her lord 
seemed to be a sort of appendage. On my entrance the gaoler 
rose, gave me a look of welcome over his gold spectacle-rim, 
and bade me take a chair. 

'• Mr. Lewis, I understand ? " said he. 

"Yes, sir," I replied. "I hope you'll pardon me for dis- 
turbing you at this hour." 

"Don't mention iti Don't mention iti" he rejoined. 
"When there's business on hand, I never look at the time." 

After some general conversation, in the course of which I 
noticed he had a habit of repeating his words, Mr. Breece re- 
maiked, " Excuse me, Mr. Lewis, but are you in the ministry ?" 

'• I am sir," said I. 

" I guessed as much," quoth he ; "so you'll take a glass of 
wine with me. Mother ! if you please, hand us the " 

"Don't trouble," I interposed. "I do not take any. My 



392 RHYS LEWIS. 



errand is short and simple, and I will not intrude upon you for 
more than a couple of minutes. This morning I received a 
letter from you informing me of the death of a man named 
James Lewis, a prisoner in this place. My visit is to be 
attributed more to curiosity than to anything else." 

" Oh !" ejaculated Mr. Breece, whose face changed on the 
instant. Casting a keen and searching glance at me, he add- 
ed, " Yes, yes, I wrote you and thought no more of the matter 
— more — of — the — matter. He was your father, it seems, eh ?*' 

"No;" replied I, feeling glad at being able to say so. 
'• But he was some sort of a relative, of whom, I can assure 
you, I was not by any means proud. My business is to know, 
if you will be good enough to tell me, whether he said any- 
thing to you beyond what was contained in your letter. I have 
my reasons for asking this which it would be of no use or in- 
terest that you should be made acquainted with." 

*' I understand you, I understand you," returned Mr. Breece, 
resuming his former affability. "No; no, to the best of my 
recollection, he told me no more than I wrote you. Have you 
many relations, Mr. Lewis ?" 

** As far as I am aware, he was the last," I answered. 

'• Ah !" exclaimed Mr. Breece, in surprise. 

" Of course, you buried him to-day, as stated in your letter," 
I observed. 

•• No," he replied. "No. "Wait; did you say, Mr. Lewis, 
that he was the only relative you possessed ?" 

" On my oath," I replied, for I saw that he doubted me. 
" As far as I am aware, he was the last of my family." 

" That is strange," said Mr. Breece ; "if, indeed, it is strange 
too ; for we are constantly being deceived— constantly. I sup- 
pose I must take your word, as a clergyman ; but, this morn- 
ing, just as I had given orders to place the body in the coffin, 
there came a visitor here who represented himself to be a 
brother of the deceased ; [I felt uncomfortable at the words] 
although I must admit he was not a bit like him ; indeed, he 
seemed a strange character, and was obviously a man of 
means. He begged to be allowed to provide a suitable coffin 
for his unfortunate brother, and put down a five pound note on 
the table in pavment— on the table, sir. Could T refuse him. 



RHYS LEWIS. 393 



you think ? Sir, I always say that, when death sets to work, 
the law must give way— give way, sir. Will I punish a dead 
man ? Never sir ; never ! That would look like fighting 
against Almighty God, sir. I at once ordered a good coffin to 
be made for the dead ; and it is a good coffin. Indeed, in a 
manner of speaking, it is a pity to put anything so expensive 
in the earth. He who paid for it loved his brother dearly. If 
you had only been here ten minutes earlier you would have 
seen that strange man— a character, sir, quite a character." 

I rose to go, saying " I am very much obliged to you, Mr. 
Breece for your kindness, and I again apologise for troubling 
you at such a time of night." 

" Don't mention it, don't mention it," returned the Govern- 
or. " Things of this sort will happen, sometimes. Here you 
are! Would you like to see the coffin? I'm sure you'll be 
pleased with it." 

•' If you'll be good enough, sir," I replied. 

Mr. Breece touched a bell at his elbow, and in a minute the 
man whom I had previously seen made his appearance. 

" Gloom," said Mr. Breece, "has coffin No. 72 been screwed 
down ?" 

" That is what we are just doing, sir," was the answer. 

•' Take this gentleman to see it. Goodnight. Don't mention 
it, sir; don't mention it. You're very welcome." 

I was led across a wide court-yard, then through a door- way 
opening on to a long corridor, through another door and 
another, both self-locking; then down a flight of stone steps, 
and along another corridor, there being something in the atmo- 
sphere, the strong doors and damp walls which made me think 
that all in that place had been dead for generations — my guide, 
Mr. Breece and his wife excepted— so dark and dismal were 
the surroundings. At length we came to the mortuary 
chamber where, so I then supposed, never a whiff of fresh air 
had entered, and where the living were compelled to be as the 
dead— without breathing. The ceiling of the room was low, 
the walls were bare and dank as if snail-beslimedfor centuries, 
and the odour of death hung thick all about. When I first 
went in, I thought it was the subterranean character of the 
place which made me fancy rats were gnawing at my boots and 



394 RHYS LEWIS. 



crawling between my legs until my guide, with a curse, made a 
kick at one. I was then certain it was no fancy, but that he, 
too, was being pestered by the same vermin. I had had but 
little to eat that day, and felt weak and faint. But I tried to 
bear up, for I had not come all that way for nothing. At the 
farthest end of the long and narrow room was a board whereon 
lay the ** nice coflBn," beside which stood a man in his shirt 
fileeves, with a paper cap on his head, who on hearing me and 
my guide approach turned to look at us, holding a screw- 
driver poised in his hand, his face wearing an expression 
like that of a man caught robbing a grave. He took the 
trouble to explain to me the excellent points of the coffin ! 
What cared I about that ? My great object was to see the body 
which was within. I had to give the joiner a shilling to un- 
ficrew. However mad the notion, I feared my uncle James 
had only simulated death, and that this was but a deep- 
laid plan of his to escape from prison. To tell the truth, 
I seriously expected, while the joiner was taking out the 
last screw and removing the lid, to see my uncle sitting up and 
laughing. But it did not happen so; and, blame me who 
will, I felt greatly relieved. There he lay, in the same old 
clothes, and as dead as a doornail. He, who had ruined my 
father, brought my mother and myself the greater part of 
our troubles, spent every farthing of the money I had saved 
to o-o to college, and who found no evil too great to commit, was 
now powerless and still, vanquished at last by the Great Van- 
quisher ! So as to make sure, I felt his hands and his forehead. 
Thev were cold as the encompassing walls. Previous to that 
nio-ht I had seen but two dead faces— Seth's and my mother's. 
■The change there was here I The Devil had set his mark on 
this one, to whom the pangs of death had been horrible. Me- 
thought the difference between the pleasant, cheerful look upon 
the face of Seth in his coffin, and that upon the one before me 
was as wide as heaven is from hell asunder! He was my 
uncle, brother to my father ; but I fear that but few worse men 
were ever placed between four boards. Looking at him, I felt a 
certain degree of awe ; and yet, I thought, everything about 
contributed to make a fit end for a character so degraded and 
fiinful. Although my clothes were sticking to me with a cold 



RHYS LEWIS. 395 



perspiration, I felt a sort of chuckle at the knowledge that he 
would torment me no more. Whatever might be the other 
troubles in store, one half of my nightmare had beeu 
lifted from off me. I hurried away from the scene. On find- 
ing myself without the walls of the Old Bailey, I took a long, 
^eep breath and, as if unconsciously, murmured, '* blessed 
liberty !" 

In that part of the town the streets were quiet and still, and 
I saw no living creature during the whole of the time I was 
walking back and fore, like a soldier doing sentry duty, wait- 
ing Will Bryan. I walked and walked, my mind running upon 
Bala, where I longed to be. Little did Williams, whom I 
fancied snug in bed, know where I was at that moment, or the 
thoughts that were hovering around my heart. Had he known, 
he would not have slept a wink. It had ceased raining now 
for some time, and the moon shone forth. I was glad to see 
lier. I knew her, and believed she knew me, ever since I was 
a child, and when I used to think we, Welsh people, owned her. 
Will was such a long while in coming that, at times, I feared 
something had happened to him, and that he would never come 
at all. Occasionally I felt ready to faint with hunger ; but I 
would speedily forget all that, and my musings would traverse a 
considerable portion of my life. Looking back I saw God's hand 
bringing me safe through many a distress. What purpose had 
He in leading me hither ? My thoughts were tangled, but wan 
the dawn about to break ? Will was a long time coming ; but I 
remembered mother used to say that every wait was a long one. 
I fancied, in the distance, hearing the rumble of approaching 
wheels, and set to listening intently. Were they Will's? No, 
for they went another way. A church clock near by struck 
twelve. Presently I fancied hearing footsteps on the pave- 
ment beyond, and bent my ear to catch the sound. Yes, some 
one was approaching. He walked swiftly along, and whistled 
as he went. To prevent suspicion I walked to meet him, in- 
tending to return after he had passed. When within forty 
yards or so of him the man broke out into song — part of a duet 
•entitled, if I remember rightly, "All's Well," in which the 
questions and answers occur : " Who goes there ?" "A friend." 
" The word ?" "Good Night," &c. The singer was Will, whose 
well-known voice brought my spirit healing. 



396 RHYS LEWIS. 



** Well, old soot-in-the-soup, are you tired of waiting?" he 
asked, " You must excuse me for not coming by cab; the 
nag was dead tired, and we haven't far to walk to my crib. 
Now let us have a little of your 'stranger than fiction.* I 
know by your jib you're in a row. Where in the wide world 
have you come from ? D'ye know what ? I have been thinking 
about you thousands of times and asking what if Providence 
were to tumble us across each other, some day ? But, weary 
pilgrim, tell thy tale !" 

♦'First of all, Will," said I, ♦• did you find out where old 
Nic'las went to ? " 

"Yes, and got a tanner for doing so," replied Will. "It 
was only after leaving you it struck me how diflScult it would 
be to dog a chap in a cab, so I drove up straight to my nabs, 
and said, * step in, sir ;' as if I meant to give him a lift for no- 
thing, you know. The old boy rose to the bait. * Sixty-five 
Gregg Street," said he, and when I put him down, h3 gave me 
sixpence. We shan't be two minutes passing the house. I'll 
show it you. But what's the row ? What's the meaning of 
all this? Spout!" 

It was no uneasy or roundabout task to explain to Will my 

object in coming to B , he knowing more of my and my 

family's history than anybody else. I gave him a brief account 
of what had happened to me after he made his " exit," to all of 
which he listened with deep interest. I knew I could reckon upon 
his confidence and help. Indeed, but for so Providential a 
meeting, the one-half of my errand to the town would have 
been left unfulfilled. We walked, arm in arm, without my 
looking where we were going to, although I was conscious of 
being led through various streets, and of having turned to the 
right and the left many times. I had just finished relating 
what I had seen in the Old Bailey, when Will pulled up and 
said softly, ** Here it is." I looked about me, and saw we were 
in a narrow, quiet street. The houses were high and, judging 
from the number of windows, contained a great many occu- 
pants. There were shutters upon the lower windows. Will 
whispered me again : " Here's the house— 65, Gregg Street. 
It was to this old Nick went. We had better ask if supper's 
ready ? A strange feeling came over me, which I cannot 



RHYS LEWIS. 397 



describe. It was made up of fear, odd thoughts and curiosity. 
The residents appeared to have retired to rest; but Will 
directed my attention, with his finger, to a streak of light 
above the shutters of No. 65, and walked as stealthily as a cat 
towards the window, I following. We heard talking inside. 
Will placing his right hand on my shoulder and his left foot 
on the low window-sill, stretched himself to his full height, 
and tried to peep above the edge of the shutters. Failing to 
do so, he descended, and invited me, I being about an inch the 
taller, to have a try. I went up, and was able to survey the 
room. But my heart beat so fast that I almost lost the use of 
my eyes. However, I managed to make out that there was a 
bed at the farther end, with someone sitting upon it ; but I 
could not see his face, because Nic'las, whose form I well knew, 
was standing between me and him, pouring from a bottle, which 
he held in his right hand, something into a glass, which he held 
in his left. 1 was getting anxious for a view of the face of the 
man on the bed, when my attention was attracted by a sharp 
click at my side, like the creak of a key in a lock. I looked, 
and behold a tall, powerful policeman handing me neatly down 
from the window-sill. Before I knew that my feet had touched 
the ground, my wrist was in one loop of a pair of handcutis, of 
which the other was about Will's. It took the officer about 
half a dozen seconds to do the business, which he went through 
without saying a word. Keeping hold of my coat collar, he 
made a careful search for the number of the house. I was on 
the point of dropping from fright. Will quickly regained his 
self-possession, and was the first to break silence. 

"Officer," he said. "I must give you credit. You are a 
smart fellow." Looking thoughtfully, alternately at the hand- 
cuffs and myself, he added: "Just as it should be. We've 
always been attached, even from childhood ; " whereupon he 
began to argue with the officer, who, however, refused to have 
anything to say to him, the only word we could get out of our 
captor being the single one, "March!" which we did. The 
officer walked close at our heels without saying anything, save 
" right" or " left," when we came to the corner of a street. 

" This is the worst day's work I've ever seen with my eyes, 
I'll take oath," observed Will. "We've made a regular hash of 



398 RHYS LEWIS. 



things, and there is no use, you know, arguing with a Blue« 
coat. I must speak a little grammatically, or he'll understand 
us. The question is, how shall we get out of this ? Set your 
mind to work on some good scheme now. Why do you tremble 
so ? An innocent man has no cause to tremble. You know 
us to be as harmless as William the Coal's mule. By the bye, 
is old William alive ? Does he still keep laying the blame on 
Satan ? We, too, I fear, must lay the blame on the old fellow 
for this job. How shall we manage it, say ? Bluecoat, you 
know, will swear lots of things, to-morrow morning. Speak, 
for you may just as well not be down hearted." 

" There is nothing to be done except to tell the truth and 
take the consequences," said I. ** But, let me get free from the 
clutches of this man when I may, I must go back to that house 
again." 

«* They'll never believe the truth," remarked Will. ** Were 
we to tell the truth, namely, that we only wanted to see who 
was with old Nic'las in the house there, d'ye think they'd be- 
lieve us ? Not likely ! There are many ways of telling the 
truth. It is necessary to speak figuratively sometimes, you 
know. If Bluecoat doesn't put in a lot of lies, I don't see how 
they can do anything to us. But we may possibly get fourteen 
days; which will be a lasting shame in the case of a couple of 
innocent lads. I never knew anything so awkward. After I 
had thought of having a pleasant night, going over old times ! 
If I was sure Bluecoat wasn't an exception, I'd try and bribe 
him ; but there's no knowing, he's so quiet. If we had pre- 
tended to be drunk it would only be five shillings and the costs. 
Have you no plan ? Say something ; you needn't give up the 
ghost. I try not to use an English word lest Bluecoat should 
understand me. I never remember talking such pure Welsh 
— I am surprised at myself. Let's have an understanding as 
to what we shall say, for fear we'll make a mess of our story. 
How would it be for us to say we were after the servants ? There 
are sure to be servants in a house like that. What if they ask- 
ed us their names, and we were to answer — Ann and Margaret ? 
Then, supposing we were asked the kind of hair they have, and 
we said black ? But what if their names turned out to be 
Maud and Cecilia, and their hair red ? How should we look 



RHYS LEWI:^. 39^ 



then ? No, that story won't wash. Tell us your scheme ?" 
D'ye know what ? I never thought you had so little pluck. 
You needn't go into your boots, man — you won't be a bit th& 
better. At the same time, I'm terribly sorry for you. I don't 
care a fig about myself, because some chum or other of mine i& 
sure to look after the nag. But the idea of a Methodist preacher 
in quod ! D'ye know what ? I nearly dropped into poetry ; 
only *' nag " and " quod " don't rhyme very well, do they ? I 
hope to goodness they won't get to hear of this job in the— in 
the academy. Bluecoat doesn't understand that word, I'll 
take oath. It would be a deuce of a thing if they got to know 
about it in Bala. You would lose your Diary on the instant. 
But it '11 be no use for you to-morrow to say your name i» 
R. L., you know. You must be a Welshman with an alias. 
What if you were to say your name was Melltathraneoros- 
llanerchrugog ? They wouldn't know any better. I am bound 
to take another name. I being a bard, a sample of whose work 
you've seen iu " nag " and " quod." Have you nothing in the 
world to say ?"' 

Will remained silent for some minutes. I spoke but a very 
few words. Indeed, I was too much afflicted in spirit to keep' 
up a conversation. I wondered how Will could take matter* 
so easily. I was on the point of telling him my trouble, and 
my fears lest the affair should become known at college and 
my home, when Will began again : 

*' I clean fail to see a way out of this scrape. Appearances are 
against us. The fate of both, on Bluecoat's oath (that rhymes, 
doesn't it ?) depends entirely. It has just struck me whether 
Providence has resolved to give every one of your family the 
blessing of going to prison for a while. Some of them you 
know, were quite at home there ; then there was your brother 
— one of the best lads breathing — he too had a spell. And now, 
here's you. Are you down in Elian's Well, say .' Wait you, 
weren't Paul and Silas in durance vile once ? I slip into Eng- 
lish unawares. Well, we are as harmless as they were. And 
how did they get out of the bother ? Was it not by singing and 
prayer '1 Well, if you'll only pray I'll sing until the place re- 
sounds. I'll take oath !" 

While Will was uttering those last words, we were both 



400 RHYS LEWIS. 



atstonished by a loud laugh from the officer, who, addressing 
us in Welsh, said : ** Boys, what was your business at that 
house?" 

*' Holloa! John Jones from the land of my fathers! Where's 
your latch-key, to open these cuffs? Oes y hyd i'r iaith 
Gymraeg ! * Yes, that's it. Cymry rhydd Oymry fydd I * 
cried Will delightedly, as the officer was freeing us, which he 
promptly did. While he was taking the handcuffs from our 
wrists, Will heaped up words of commendation upon his head, 
amongst the most honourable of them being "trump," "old 
brick," "A 1," &c., twisting together pleasantry, gratitude, a 
full and satisfactory explanation of our conduct, all on one 
string, without pausing to take breath, and winding up with 
an offer to stand the constable the price of a dinner. 

•' No ! " replied the officer. " ' Bluecoat' is ' an exception.' 
He won't take any reward. Go home now, like good 
children." 

•• You are true to nature and an honour to your country. 
You ought to be made an inspector at once," declared Will. 

After some further conversation with our captor we left, on 
good terms and in good spirits. 

"D'ye know what?" said Will. "I'll never again say 
Bobbies are humbugs without exception. There are good 
sorts among them, also. I think, sometimes, it is worth a 
man's while to get into a scrape, for the pleasure of getting out 
of it again. Only once was I ever in the grip of one of those 
chaps before — about a year ago. I knew a girl in this town — 
there was nothing definite between us, you know, only we were 
extra good friends— and one night I went to send her home. I 
accompanied her to the house and remained there some time — 
longer than I thought. I warrant you it was eleven o'clock, 
when, all of a sudden, I heard the mistress coming down from 
the sitting room; and the girl, instead of being straightforward 
and saying who I was, shoved me into a pantry, or some such 
place, where it was frightfully close. Well to you, I heard the 
missis ordering the girl to bed, and afterwards locking the 

• Well-known Welsh sayings, meaning *' The world's age to the Cymric 
tongue," and *' Free Welsh the Welsh shall be," respectively.— Teans- 

LATOK. 



RHYS LEWIS. 401 



front door and the back ; but I never tboucrbt she would take 
the keys with her. After that I heard both going up the 
stairs ; but I believed the girl would return to let me out. 
Nearly smothered, I opened the pantry door, or whatever it 
was. The fire was as dark as the black cow's belly, and I 
didn't know what in the world to do. I waited a while, and 
presently I heard the girl softly stealing down in her stocking 
feet. Never was I more glad to see candle light. I was in a 
hurry to get out, because I knew it wasn't right to stay in 
anybody's house on the sly. I was real sorry for the girl, 
when she told me her mistress had the keys and that it was 
impossible for me to leave. But I was hound to get out, if I 
had to break a hole in the wall ; because it wouldn't be true to 
nature, or honourable, to stay in the house all night. Said I 
to the girl, "What would be easier than to go through the 
front parlour window?" "Well, yes indeed," she replied, 
being Welsh. So she put the candle on the table, and away 
we went to the parlour. I remember very well that the moon 
was shining on the window. There was a flower stand near by, 
and in my haste I upset one of the pots and smashed it. Fair- 
play for the girl, she said, " The cat'll get the blame for that." 
The lower part of the window, I should think, had not been 
opened for I don't know how long, and after I had raised it 
some ten inches or so, it wouldn't budge a peg. There was no- 
thing to be done but to squeeze myself through. When I was 
about half-way out, there I stuck, as tight as a wedge, and I 
thought once it was there I should remain. But I got help. 
In a couple of minutes I felt someone tugging at me, and the 
buttons of my vest being all torn away. It was the bobby — 
the point to which I was steering, only I've been rather long 
with my story. When the girl saw me in the policeman's 
hands, she burst out crying at a fine rate, which was the first 
time I knew she was fond of me. ' Don't cry Gwen /ac/'j,' said 
I to her — her name was Gwen— 'I'll come and see you, directly 
I get out of gaol,' which made her ten times worse. I never saw 
her again. But this is the point : that bobby knew very well 
I had done nothing wrong, and yet he wanted five 
shillings for letting me go. After a good deal of argument I 
brought him down to half a crown. Their screw is such a 



2 c 



402 RHYS LEWIS. 



small one» you know, they must get a job of this sort some- 
times to make up for it. Are you tired ? Or are you not so 
swift of foot as you used to be ? You drag in the under- 
standings in a most remarkable way. Have you a touch of 
rheumatism, tell me ? We haven't far to go, now." 

*• The less the better," I responded. *' I'm dreadfully tired. 
But do you know, Will ? It is 65, Gregg Street I have for 
ever in my mind. How can I gain admission into that house ? " 

I then told my friend what I had witnessed before the oflGlcer 
handcuflfed us, adding: **I am bound, before leaving this town, 
to get further light on what I have seen. It is evident Nic'las 
does not stay there. He had his hat on, as if he were about to 
start out. You understand my anxiety." 

After much consultation between us. Will presently said : — 

*• I have it I Do you remember me bidding you not be in 
too great a hurry to put on a white tie ? Circumstances alter 
cases; you must begin to wear one to-morrow. There are 
people here who call themselves town missionaries— men who 
are always going about looking up, not their friends, but some- 
one who is sick or ungodly, to try and do good. Somehow or 
other they get at all those who are ill, as if they knew the scent 
of them. I have only been four days ill since I'm here. One 
of these people came to see me three times during that period, 
and told me a lot of good things — if I had only done them. 
There are two things I don't like about them : one is, they 
expect a man to believe right off, without giving him time to 
consider ; and the other, they puff the Gospel too much, to my 
mind. They are not like the old Corphy which thinks the 
Gospel too good to need puffing, and that those who want it 
will come to chapel to ask for it. No, these town missionaries 
are like the patent medicine men, who advertise every day, and 
leave a paper in every house, giving an account of a lot of 
people who've been cured. What puzzles me about them is 
that they are never in the glums, like your mother, old Abel, 
and others in the chapel at home, whom I knew to be extra 
pious. No danger 1 The town missionaries are always jolly, 
as if they had never sinned ! I'll take oath they are good people, 
because they don't want anything with a body except to do him 
good. Still, I can't swallow it how they're always so happy. 



RHYS LEWIS. 403 



And they expect everybody else to be the same. I sometimes 
think that if the angel Gabriel had sinned as much as I have, 
though he got forgiveness, he'd be down in the dumps, occa- 
sionally, even in heaven itself. But these town missionaries 
never are ; and the common people and the poor respect them 
and let them into their houses to give them advice. D'ye see 
the plan ? You can speak English properly, and there's no- 
thing to prevent your going to 65, Gregg Street and killing 
two birds with the one stone. But here's my crib. Don't ex- 
pect to find a smart place, for I haven't begun to keep a butler, 
yet." 

Will took a key from his pocket and let us both into his 
lodgings. "When he had shut the door we were in perfect 
darkness. Will struck a match. On a little table behind 
us, I saw a candlestick. Will on lighting the candle 
said, 

** I am the last in to-night, or you'd see a lot of candles here. 
This house is for all the world — you follow me upstairs, and 
don't make more noise than you can help, for everybody is 
asleep— for all the world like a dove cot. There are eight of us 
staying here, every one with a room to himself, and not one of 
us knowing yet in which room the landlady, her daughter and 
the servant live. But they are here somewhere. Here is my 
room. The best thing I can say about my billet is that it's 
clean. Make yourself at home while I get the grub ready. 
Here's a place for you to wash ; for you shan't eat in my house 
without washing, after handling that son of a gun's corpse." 

I was astonished. In size the room was only about four 
yards square, and yet it contained a bed, a cupboard, two chairs, 
a round table, and several other necessaries besides. On the 
table was a clean white cloth, with a cup and saucer, two plates 
and two knives and forks. By the fire side were a kettle and 
a coffee pot. 

'*I see," remarked Will, pulling oflf his coat for a wash, 
*' that you are taking stock. Which would you rather? Tea 
or coffee ?" 

" Well, Will bach !" I exclaimed. •* And you have come to 
this !" 

I could hardly help laughing. 



404 RHYS LEWIS. 



"Come to what?" asked Will. "To one room? I main- 
tain it's true to nature. Every creature God made, except 
man, lives in one room, after leaving the open air; and it's the 
merest humbug to have a lot of rooms. Besides, how can even 
man live in more than one room at a time ? The thing is a 
physical impossibility. You mustn't think 'tis hard up I am ; 
as I shall show you directly. Say the word : tea or coffee ?" 

" Tea," I replied. 

"Same here," said Will unlocking the cupboard, taking 
out the indispensables and deftly preparing the meal. 

" You needn't have a better woman than this landlady of 
mine," he observed. *' Sometimes I don't see her for a whole 
week together. When I want anything, I write the order on 
that slate, put the money on the mantlepiece, and, by the time 
I get back, all will be snug on the table. When I first came 
here I never used to lock the cupboard, and I must admit my 
landlady, at that time, would take the loan of some of my 
things, now and again. I'll toll you how I caught her. I found 
that the tea got low rather quickly, so what did I do but catch 
a live fly and clap it into the canister. When I next went to 
open it the fly was gone. That was a proof positive. But the 
fault was mine; the woman was honest enough if I only 
locked the cupboard." 

All this Will spoke on his knees, before the fire, broiling: ham 
upon a fork. In a few minutes the meal was ready. After a 
little reflection Will said, "I see there is a drawback — I have 
only one cup and saucer ; but, for this occasion you take the 
cup and I'll take the saucer." 

So we did, and from that day to this I never remember en- 
joying a meal more heartily. Subsequently, at my request. 
Will related his history. Althou2:h I believe I could re- 
peat it almost word for word, I shall only attempt a chronicle 
of the principal facts, doing so as near as can be in his own 
words, which were as follow ; — 



RBYS LEWIS, 405 



CHAPTER XL. 

THE ATTTOBIOQRAPHT OF WILL BRYAN. 

•• YoxjkDOw," Will began, "what made me leave home. I 
can tell you in two words — high stomach. I who had been in 
the habit of holding my head so proudly, who used to drive 
like fury through the streets, who had acted the gallant with 
the girls there ! No, I couldn't bear the disgrace of my father's 
liquidation. I had a little money put by, but not enough to 
emigrate on ; so I made for this big town, thinking I'd hit upon 
a job in three or four hours. But, after coming here and seeing 
all the people, I felt lonely and disheartened. I was afraid to 
ask for a job because I hadn't learnt to do anything except 
drive. I knocked about until I had finished my money and 
then — you'd never believe the difference there is between a high 
stomach and an empty one. For some days before my money 
gave out, I had been mooning around the stables picking up 
stray bits of information, because I saw it was to that it must 
come. You know I wasn't quite in rags, and perhaps there 
was a little too much swagger in me ; so, at first, the cabbies 
used to touch their hats to me, as if I was somebody ; which, to 
tell the truth, I was sorry to see. It went to my heart to be 
obliged to sell the watch-guard mother gave me when I was 
eighteen. But what was I to do ? I kept on going to the 
stables, and I fancy the cabbies must have thought me socie 
gentleman's son who had quarrelled with his father — they were 
so awfully respectful to me. They had spotted I was hard up, 
and they used to quarrel as to who should stand me a glass; 
thinking, I should imagine, it would be nothing to see me, 
some day, after I had squared it with my father, throwing 
them a five pound note. That was all right ; for why should 
I tell them my history ? I pawned my overcoat. By this time 
I had made chums with the owner of stables, horses and 
all. He would shake hands with me and, on the quiet, try to 
pump me as to my antecedents. But Will was too deep for 
him ; and continued to be a great mystery. One day — I think 
it must have been the day I took my watch to my uncle's — I 



4o6 y?^KS LEWIS. 



asked the gaffer for a job as a cabby. He laughed until he 
nearly made himself ill, thinking it was only a hobby of mine. 
But I stuck to him. In a couple of days one of the men was 
laid up with inflammation of the lungs, after being out over 
night. I applied tor his place until he got well and, in fun, 
was given it. As I was crossing the court-yard on the dickey 
there were roars of laughter, the master laughing loudest. 
But Will was also laughing — in his sleeve — and hoping, I fear, 
that the poor man would be long ill, because I was really hard 
up. They soon saw that the young swell, as they called me, 
could handle a horse with the best of them. I was wonder- 
fnlly lucky that day, and the next, and during the week. So I 
settled for a wage, master laughing at the way in which he fed 
my hobby, he thought. 



** Mixing with the cabbies, I am sorry to tell you, I got to 
live as they did, and to indulge in the ' everlasting two 
penn'orth.' I was not seasoned, as they were, you know; so, 
one day, having taken too much, I pitched on my head off the 
dickey. They carried me to bed here, and there I lay for four 
days, when the town missionary came to see me and give me a 
word of advice. He understood by my speech that I had not 
been brought up in China, and took a wonderful interest in me. 
He reasoned with me and reckoned on that slate how much a 
cabby paid every year for painting his nose red and blue, and 
damning his soul into the bargain. It was a goodish sum. I 
resolved, before getting out of bed, that no more two penn'orths 
should go down Will's red lane again ; and none ever went. 
When you remember the kind of fellow I once was you'll 
wonder at what I am now going to say. After becoming * teetot,* 
I got to be a regular miser. Once I began to save and ac- 
quired a liking for it, I was afraid to spend a penny. The last 
thing I used to do every night before going to bed was to 
reckon up my money. In a few weeks' time I was the owner 
of some pounds, which I kept under my head at night and 
carried inside my vest by day, for fear they would be prigged. 
I wouldn't put them in the bank for a reason you shall present- 
ly know. I lived on bread and butter and tea ; and preferred 



RHYS LEWIS. 407 



putting sixpence in my purse to getting something appetising 
for supper. One morning in the stables I was a bit behind 
with the horse. Two other cabbies were standing over me, 
waiting me to finish. My vest being unbuttoned, out fell my 
purse, and some fifteen sovereigns or so rolled about the ground. 
Both men nearly fainted at the sight ; both were there and then 
confirmed in the notion that I was a gentleman's son who was 
worth his thousands ; and both wondered at my strange hobby. 
They talked of nothing else to their chums that day ; and the 
next, the gaffer challenged me as to my previous history. He 
knew I hadn't robbed him, because I brought in more money 
than any man in his stables. I kept them all in the dark and 
bought a swell suit, all pockets; punishing myself a bit to 
make up the money I had paid for it, although I needn't have 
done so, because customers picked me out, on account of my 
being respectably dressed, and gave me, occasionally, an extra 
fee. Having more money than I could safely carry about with 
me, I bought a lever lock for the box there, and fixed it on 
myself, lest anyone should spot me. It cost me four and 
six, and I gave eightpence for a gimlet, screws and a 
screw driver. After coming home at night, I would find 
enjoyment in counting my money over and over. And then I 
used to vex myself by calculating how much more I should be 
worth if I hadn't bought so many two penn'orths. Sometimes 
I would be astonished and doubt whether I were myself; my 
conscience telling me I was a humbug, and that I wasn't 
true to nature. The way I'd shut her up was to call to mind a 
lot of pious old Methodists who, I knew well, were not as I 
was ; and I'd recollect how they used to groan at parting with 
a shilling. By this time I could sympathise with those I re- 
membered coming to father's shop to buy. How I used to 
notice the way their shoulders rose with every groan ! And yet 
my conscience insisted upon saying I was no better now than 
in my drinking days. But I soon taught her to say other 
things. I had an idea, all the while, of going on my own 
hook ; because I never liked the notion of being a servant. 
You know my delight was always a horse, and if I know any- 
thing at all, it is about a horse I do know it. That was the 
reason Mr. Edwards of Caerwys and I were always such 



4o8 RHYS LEWIS, 



chums. Very shortly — tell me if you are tired of the story — 
Tery shortly, I came to know every horse in the town, and 
their points, good and had. One chap here had an animal 
which was a real good sort, one with bone in him, you know. 
But the fellow was starving him. He was always three sheets 
in the wind, and thinking he was buying feed for the animal, 
when he was calling for two penn'orth. D'ye know what? 
My heart used to bleed for that poor creature, and many times 
did I give him my own horse's nose-bag out of pity. And 
Bob— the horse's name was Bob, the same name as your brother 
— knew me as well as you do ; and perhaps you won't believe 
me, but I have seen him, when I would be driving to meet him, 
stand stock still on the street, out of respect for me, or as if he 
were expecting something, I don't exactly know which. How- 
ever, Bob got worse every day, until at last he could hardly 
come up to the scratch. He was quiet and spiritless that so, 
had someone fired a gun within an inch of his ear, he would 
never have winced. One day, in the cabstand, he took to 
shivering at a fearful rate. A lot of people got about him, all 
expecting, every minute, to see him drop. I pulled him out of 
the cab, but he wouldn't move a peg. Everybody said 'twould 
be best to settle him. But before they did so I offered to buy 
him for a sovereign, as he was ; and I got him. I remembered 
one of Mr. Edwards's recipes, threw my rug over the horse, 
and ran into a chemist's shop across the street, much fearing 
the poor thing would die before I came back. I knew it was 
starving the horse was, for he gaped just like a man who is 
hungry. By the time I returned. Bob had got past noticing 
anybody, and I thought it was all up with him. The chaps 
kept asking me what would I take for his skin. I said no- 
thing ; but as he was in the midst of a gape, I poured some of 
the physic down his throat. I then asked the chaps to help 
me to rub his legs. They took hold of him, one in each leg, to 
get up the circulation, just for fun, they thought. Well, I'll 
take my oath that before ten minutes were over Bob began to 
revive, and look about to see what we were doing. There were 
hundreds of people gathered round and laughing. One of 
the fellows at his forelegs — an Irishman, and wonder- 
fully witty — presently yelled out that he had been bitten, 



RHYS LEWIS. 409 



whereupon there were roars of laughter. You will hardly 
believe me, but in half an hour Bob was eating a nice warm 
mash, as well as ever I saw him in my life, and the crowd 
shouting * Hooray ! ' The man who had sold him to me 
always looked like a calf, but he now looked black as my hat. 
He wanted to cry oflF the bargain, but the crowd protested. 
They called me a smart fellow ; knowing nothing, of course, of 
Mr. Edwards of Caerwys. Well, I hired a stall and tended the 
horse. I fed him and slaved, and Bob got better every day — 
for he wasn't old you know — until at last he got to kick and 
bite everybody about liim, but me ; with me he behaved like a 
Christian. Between everything I reckon he had cost me a 
matter of five pounds or so, when I gave my master a week's 
notice. I bought a second-hand cab cheap, and, when I turned 
out on my own hook, Bob had filled up his coat, and was shining 
at such a rate that the chaps swore I had been using Day and 
Martin's blacking on him. To a certain extent, I became 
famous, and got as much work as I liked. The man of whom 
I had bought Bob was for going on the spree every time he saw 
me ; but I couldn't help that. The more money I got, the 
more I wanted, and I thought of nothing else— I never looked 
at book or paper. I made a good deal by pretending to be a 
bit of a vet. Are you tired of my story ? " 

" Yes, and have been for some time, Will," I replied. **If 
you've nothing better to say, give it up. You are not a bit 
like yourself." 

*' Have patience a minute," said Will. " Is it at the begin- 
ning or the end you put the best things into a sermon ? If at 
the beginning you are not worthy of the craft. Well, to you, 
one night, after rather a good day's work, and when I believe 
I ate a quarter of a pound of sausage for supper, I reckoned 
my money, and found myself worth forty-eight pounds, ex- 
clusive of the concern, which made me feel happy and inde- 
pendent, somehow. It was the sausage did the job, I 
believe. Unconsciously I began humming a tune. And what 
do you think it was ? The old ' Black Mark ; ' and I do 
not much fancy anyone ever got a blessing from singing 
that particular ditty besides myself. Well, I began humming 



4IO I^HYS LEWIS, 



it over to see whether I remembered it, and when I came to 
the words, 

*How fares my father, mother dear, 
How is the 'state succeeding ? ' 

I clean broke down, an awful longing came over me and I 

cried till I was tired. I fell to thinking of the old things, my 
mother especially, and what a selfish young deyil I was to be 
scraping up money, I did not know what for ; until I at last 
got to feel, I should imagine, something very much like 
religion. I had not written the old folk since I had left home, 
and I didn't know whether they had anything to eat, or 
whether they were alive or dead. This is not true to nature 
said I, and I had another spell of crying. I at once set to, and 
wrote the gaffer, asking him if he was alive, how was he 
getting on, and what was the amount he had failed for ? I put 
the letter into the post that night for fear I should change my 
mind before the morning. After dropping it in, I felt as if I 
were no longer cabby, but Will Bryan, and I can't tell you the 
pleasure I got when I found my old self coming back. I had 
not changed by the morning, and was on fire for an answer to 
my letter, which I got by return, written by the old woman ; 
my father, she said, being too cut up. But I knew that was 
only a dodge of hers, for fear my father would say something 
nasty which would drive me fifty miles further away. Old 
Hugh was not so tender hearted as all that. The mother 
craved like a cripple that I should return home, and said how 
glad she was to hear from her prodigal son. That was a 
mistake ; for there's no analogy between the prodigal son and 
myself. That chap's father was a wealthy gentleman, who gave 
him half the estate. After spending thousands of pounds, he 
had to go feeding pigs, and come home again in rags. My 
father went to smash, and I never had the chance of spending 
five pounds of his. Neither did I lower myself by pig-feeding ; 
and I'll never go home in rags, I swear. There's no analogy 
at all, I repeat. Four hundred pounds it was the old boy had 
failed for. The creditors accepted five shillings in the pound 
which he had paid. He was now getting along very well and 
had given over speculating, so mother said. But surely, you must 



RHYS LEWIS. 4" 

know all this. And just fancy the old woman's cuteness: 
' Suze, is still single ' she said. The gaffer would never have 
thought of such tactics. Though I knew it was my mother's 
cunning which made her mention Suze, the arrow went home, 
and I'd have at that moment given all I was worth for a glimpse 
of the girl. But, for all my regret and the feeling of my 
old self's return, I beat it down, and declared I would never 
go home until my father had paid every farthing of his debt; 
for I could never think of returning unless I were able to hold 
my head erect. I wrote back to say I was in a good place — 
they do not know yet I am a cabby, and don't you split — and I 
made a bargain with them that I would come home after they 
had wiped off the whole debt, which I would help them to do. 
And that is what has been going on now for some time. Wo 
have cleared away about two hundred pounds, including the 
composition. Here's a receipt for ten pounds I got from the 
gaffer this morning — read it." 

Will handed me the letter, on looking at which I observed, 
*• Walter Bateson is the name I find here, Will." 

"Certainly," said Will. "That's why I fear to put my 
money in the bank. I did not like anyone in this place to 
know my name, lest they should think me an Irishman ; and 
for other reasons besides." 

" This is not worthy of you, Will," was my response. 

"What harm is there in the thing ? " asked Will. "Look 
at them in Wales. Nobody of note there goes by his own 
name. There is greater reason why I should call myself 
Walter Bateson than that some John Jones should call himself 
Llew Twllylwl! 'What's in a name? A rose'— you know the 
rest. And the initials, ' yours truly, W. B.', still stand good. 
But the old people don't like it at all ; and, to tell the truth, 
when I felt my former self return, I had a mind to throw my 
new name over, if I had only known how." 

" I heard, when I was at home," said I, " that your father 
was paying his debts and speedily regaining his old position ; 
but little did I know you were helping him. It is very credit- 
able in you. You are doing well ; but you would be doing 
better by going home to assist your parents iu the business. I 



412 RHYS LEWIS. 



atn very pleased to meet you, Will ; but permit me to say, you 
have greatly changed. To hear you talk of money and ." 

♦♦Hold on!" interrupted Will. '♦! know that myself. I 
know I have lost my talent, and that I can no longer say any- 
thing worth the hearing. But you must remember that I am 
coming back — I haven't reached myselt, as yet; but I'm com- 
ing. I don't want to come too fast ; but, when I reach the real 
W. B., I'll go home and put the break on." 

♦♦Will," I remarked, ♦♦you say nothing about religion or 
chapel. Do you never go to chapel or church ?" 

♦♦ There's no use telling lies— you'd never think how little 1 
have done in that way. You know I don't like the church. I 
went once to the Dissenters' chapel here— Congregationalists 
they call themselves— and sat near the door. The minister i» 
a Welshman, named Price, whom they are always advertising. 
Well, out of curiosity I went to hear him. And what do you 
think his text was ? Morgan of Dyflfryn's old one — about the 
little foxes. I don't remember the verse, but it's somewhere 
in the Old Testament. I, however, remember a lot of the 
sermon because it had tickled me, above a bit. * Just let's 
see,' said I to myself; ♦ can you, I wonder, discourse as well as 
old Morgan could on that particular verse ? * I sat me down to 
listen. In ten minutes I spotted it was translating Mr. Morgan's 
sermon my nabs was, and so I bolted ; for I consider the man 
who prigs a sermon is no better than he who prigs a sovereign, 
nor as good, because he gets paid for it, while the other fellow 
gets three months. I went to no place at all for a good long 
while after that. By accident, however, I turned one Sunday 
night into the Wesleyan chapel here. I liked the minister pray- 
ing first class — if he had only got quiet. But, I never came 
across such a thing ! A lot of the congregation got passing re- 
marks so loudly upon his prayer that I couldn't make out 
how he wasn't bewildered. He preached about Peter, after that 
person had slipped and made a mess of it. I was rather well 
up in the history, and was getting interested. But if Peter 
only heard him, he wouldn't have thanked him I'm sure, for he 
ran the saint down at a shocking rate. I didn't like the man'a 
doctrine, either. He said it was possible for a man to get re- 
ligion and lose it after, for every thing depended on the man 
himself. If such is the case, good bye to Will Bryan. I 



RHYS LEWIS. 413 

reasoned, then, that if the man bungled about a thing in which 
I was well up, how could I tell he was right in the thing 
\rhich I knew nothing about? I never went there again. 
About a fortnight ago I found out that the old Coryh had a 
Welsh chapel here, and I went to it. It is not like the chapel 
at home. It is a lot of swells is in the big seat. Looking 
around I saw an Abel Hughes here and there among the con- 
gregation ; but 'twas all swells in the big seat. It was a young 
chap who preached, and by his cut I took him to be a Bala 
postage stamp— no offence mind. Have you never wondered 
that a new sect has not arisen to take up the good points of all 
the denominations ? Something of this sort, now : let them 
adopt the style of the Church of England ; the smartness of 
the Congregationalists, the go-aheadedness of the Wesleyans, 
and the doctrine of the old Corph, I don't know much about 
the Dippers, but I should think they must have their good 
points. Each sect excels the other in something. I like the 
style of the English Church ; they are more devotional, don't 
look about them, or talk to each other during service ; only I 
think they must be awfully ignorant. "Well, there's the Con- 
gregationalists ; just see how smart and witty they are. They 
are extraordinarily clever, only there's too much of the trail of 
politics and the eisteddfod over them all. Nearly every one of 
them makes an englyn* and sports a nom de plume, only 1 
should not be the one to say anything about that. There are 
the Wesleys again ; see how ardent, how warm and how jolly 
they are. Only I think they must be fearfully clannish. They 
aU pray in the same fashion, too ; and are too forward at it — 
as if they were talking to the man next door. Well, there are 
we, the old Corph. I say * we ' because I consider myself a 
sort of honorary member still. I always think the old Corph 
is the John Bull of "Wales. The Dissenters, you know, won't 
admit this ; but no matter. The old Corph reminds me of a 
etout, unwieldy chap, very difficult to move. There is no use 
trying to tickle him, he is too thick-skinned. He must have 
his own time ; but, when he does move, he moves like an 



• Epigram.— Tkanslator. 



414 JiHYS LEWIS, 



elephant, and no matter how mueli you hitch on to him he'll 
pull it to anywhere and back again. Do you twig it is 
figuratively I'm speaking? You know Duke, William the 
Coal's mule ? I can't tell how he is, now, but time was whea 
there was no stronger mule in the country. He wouldn't move 
a peg, however, unless he liked to himself, and nothing had 
any effect upon him except old William's goad. In the sum- 
mer other mules had a bunch of hazel stuck in their heads to 
keep the flies away. But what did Duke care about flies? 
Nothing affected him but the goad, and if ever they make a 
post mortem examination of him they'll find his skin like a 
pepper box, I'll take my oath. I have seen Duke, though, 
when ht was in the humour, draw twelve hundred weight of 
coal to the top of the bank, like a shot. I look upon the old 
Corph as much the same. Perhaps you'll tell me I'm showing 
a want of taste, and perpetrating an anticlimax; but you must 
remember I never was in college. What I mean is— the old 
Corph is too slow ; it has enough power, but no go. It is too 
serious also; too much like a funeral. Now wouldn't it be 
possible to start a fresh denomination which would take up the 
good points of all the rest ? What do you think ?" 

*' I think, Will that you are * coming back,' and that you 
have not yet lost your old pertness. But with reference to 
starting a new sect, don't you think it would be better if we 
tried, first of all, to combine the virtues you have been speaking 
of in our own persons ? What would you say to beginning a 
new life ? Do you never yearn for what you do not possess, 
or, possessing, do not wish to put it from you, like the * two 
penn'orths' and the avarice. You do well by paying your 
father's debt ; but what about your own ? That must be paid, 
some day, you know. In other words, what do you think of 
the dread future which is awaiting you and me ? What, by this 
time, do you think of religion ? " 

"I expected you to talk of that sort of thing," Will observed, 
sadly. "If you hadn't done so, I should have thought you 
were not fit to be a preacher. I believe your words are not 
cant, and that it is my good you are seeking. I, however, do 
not know how to answer your question. I would tell a lie did 
I say religion is not on my programme ; but, up to now, it is 



RHYS LEWIS. 415 



in the second part. I remember the time when it stood very 
low down in that part, next to • God Save the Queen.' I made 
the very same remark to the town missionary, whose words I 
shall always remember, 'How would it be,' he asked, * if you 
had to leave in the interval ? Zou came very near going before 
the end of the first part when you fell on your head off the 
dickey ? ' Not so bad, was it ? Well, to yon, I have thought, 
for some time, that religion has got higher up in the progammo 
since ; and now and then I seem to long for her turn to come. 
Although still a young chap, I am just about tired of the comic 
songs of my life, if you understand me. I'm nearly always 
jolly, but I never was happy. No matter how jolly I am, I 
know, all the while, there is something which stinks in the 
corruption of my heart." 

'• I am glad you find the odour annoying, and that your soul 
yearns after purification and true happiness. I must say " 

** Here," he interrupted. *' I don't want a sermon. I have 
heard thousands of those things. "What I want is sound, com- 
monsense advice. Never going to chapel, I have no chum, 
and that is not true to nature. As to the chaps I mix with, 
every day, they have nothing in their heads, and they don't 
think of anything besides beer. Though I never found real 
religion — because I do not think it possible a man can get the 
real thing and lose it afterwards — I sometimes think I got a 
sort of innoculation in the old chapel at home, such as has 
prevented me from having any very bad attack of small pox 
since. I had a slight touch when I came here first ; but it 
did'nt mark me deeply— at least, I hope so. Do you make me 
out?" 

"Of course," replied I. "We both were brought up 
religiously from childhood; and, despite it all, we strayed from 
the right road and wandered long. But I always hoped. Will, 
you had not lost your good impressions— the * innoculation ' as 
you call it." 

*'But your innoculation 'took' better than mine. I must 
have a fresh one before I shall be safe," observed Will. 

" Go to the Doctor, then," said I. " Inquire for the surgery. 
By this time you have * spotted ' the Welsh chapel. I do not 
wish to imply that other denominations are not as good as ours ; 
but our up-bringing, possibly our prejudices, prevent our 



4i6 RHYS LEWIS, 



receiving as mucli blessing from them as we may expect from 
the old Corph, What is there to prevent your going to 
chapel regularly ? You'll find friends there, very soon, for you 
have such a knack of introducing yourself. And who knows 
hut that you will come across the Friend who will cling closely? ' 

"It is there I'd like to be, every Sunday," returned Will. 
*• But, if I went, the minister and the deacons would spot me, 
inquire my name, and where I live. I should be obliged to say 
William Bryan, and give the number of the house; or remain 
a humbug. Well, the minister would come here and ask, * Is 
Mr. William Bryan within ? ' To which the landlady would 
answer, * There's no one of the name living here.' And how 
should I look ? If I gave an alias in chapel, it would seem as 
if I was trying to cheat the Almighty ; and that I will never 
do. I could get over the difficulty by changing my lodgings, if 
Walter Bateson had not been registered for the cab ; and I do 
not know whether they permit initials. But I see every day I 
feel myself coming back that I shall have to drop the * alter ' 
and 'ateson,' and substitute 'illiam' and *ryan' before reaching 
myself. If I do not find some decent way of getting out of it, 
I'll throw off my Inverness, show a bold front, and take my seat 
in chapel ; you mark my word. But here you are, if you wish 
to be in trim for visiting the sick to-morrow, you must go to 
your kennel; for it is now a quarter to three." 

There was but a step between us and the bed ; and I was 
glad the journey was so short. I slept profoundly ; and I re- 
member, even now, that in the morning I was for some 
minutes, between sleeping and waking, that I could not make 
out whether I was handling bacon, or smelling someone 
fihaking me. When I got fully awake, I found the facts were 
reversed. Will, who was at my head, had great trouble in 
rousing me ; and a smell of bacon and coffee filled the room. 
Bubbing my eyes, I felt as if I had been in a dream, although 
the room and everything in it answered exactly to what I had 
seen, except that there were two cups and saucers on the table 
instead of one. Will and I spent some hours talking over 
ig^hat had occurred, before beginning the work of the day. 



RHYS LEWIS, 417 



CHAPTER XLL 

THE FIRST TIME AND THE LAST. 

'♦Now fortlie choker" said Will;" if you are bound to go to that 
Louse. But, if I vrere you, I'd chuck up the idea ; for, how 
much better will you be after going ? I'll inquire for the choker 
in two minutes, and, while you are decking yourself I'll fetch 
Bob ; because I mean to give to-day to the Queen." 

Will used to govern me as a lad. I felt myself in his hands 
once more, and under some sort of compulsion to wear a white 
neckerchief, and to carry out his other instructions. I was 
ready to submit to any plan, almost, in order to attain my ob- 
ject that morning, because I felt under vow to the one I 
loved most, and, if I lost this opportunity, I knew I should never 
forgive myself for it. I found that Will had borrowed a trap, 
80 that, as he expressed it, he ** shouldn't be hailed." Much as 
I had heard about Bob on the previous night, I was too deeply 
engrossed with the outcome of my adventure to take any very 
great notice of the animal when I got the advantage of seeing 
him by daylight. But I re-collect remarking that he was in 
good condition and that Will said he was called "Lazarus" by 
the •' chaps." Our plan was for Will to drive me to Gregg Street 
and leave me there to do my errand ; then, at the end of half 
an hour, he was to fetch me to spend the day with him in any 
fashion I thought fit. But the way of man is not in himself. 
When we got within a hundred yards or so of the place at 
which we were taken prisoners the night before. Will pulled up 
his reins and said, in an excited tone, "ril take my oath! 
Here's the very bobby who nabbed us last night, and he is 
motioning to us !" Such was the fact. Within the minute, the 
officer was at our side ordering us to stop. Will, like myself, 
Was visibly agitated. 

" Rhys Lewis," said the man in blue ; ** come down." 

I obeyed, and, although I tried to appear bold, I felt myself 
tremble, and knew I was becoming pale in the face. 

Will jumped down the same instant, observing, "I'll follow 
you wherever it is, even if the concern was to go to Bryn 
Eglwys;" and he threw the reins on Bob's back. 
2 D 



4i8 RHYS LEWIS. 



The offi' er smiled and said ** doa't be alarmed. Do you know 
me, Ehys Lewis ? 

I shook my head. 

** Bryan, do you know me ? " he asked. 

" To be sure," replied Will. *' "Wasn't it you who lent me a 
pair of cuffs last night ?" 

" Will," said the officer, ** don't you remember getting the 
loan of a cane from me, more than once ?" 

After looking at him for a second or two Will exclaimed, 
** Well, may I never become a wooden bedstead if this isn't 
Sergeant Williams ! No wonder you turned out such a trump 
last night ! And how are you, old A 1 ? Can't you get leave 
of absence for to-day ? " 

*• Perhaps I can, Mr. Bateson," replied the officer. 

Will, looking a bit sheepish, observed ** True to nature, 
sergeant. The Welshman must have an alias — a bardic name, 
you know." 

" I didn't know, before, that cabbies were noted as bards," 
said the Sergeant. 

**Hush ! " returned Will. "Least said soonest mended. I 
1 feel just as if I were at home. Here am I myself, Eins 
Lewis and Sergeant Williams, and it only wants William tne 
Coal, Duke, and that old thoroughbred Thomas Bartley to 
make us complete." 

At first. Sergeant Williams's appearance gave me the greatest 
uneasiness, for my reminiscences of him were none of the most 
agreeable. But my fears were soon scattered. After a brief 
conversation, Will sprang into his trap and drove off. The 
Sergeant came with me to 65, Gregg Street, and knocked at 
the door, which was opened by a sturdy, masculine-looking 
woman. I saw at once that she and the Sergeant knew each 
other. Having told her my business, he left me. I was led by 
the woman to the room I had tried to see into on the previous 
night, and after she had announced "The Minister," she too left 
me, shutting the door behind herself. Ever since awaking that 
morning, my heart had kept beating at a rapid rate. I ielt 
that I had an unpleasant task to perform, and one which I 
could not shirk, even were the heavens to fall. Before me I 
saw him whom I had partly seen the night before, and similar- 
ly placed— sitting up in bed. Pulling myself together, as best 



J^BYS LEWIS. 419 



I could, I gave him greeting, in English, almost directly on my 
entrance to the room, although a legion of thoughts had 
swarmed through my mind before I spoke and before he could 
answer. This was the first time I had seen the man's face ; 
but I carried in my breast a load of his history— a history 
which was anything but comforting. 

When 1 asked him how he felt, he answered in the single 
word—" Bad." 

Asked whether he entertained any hope of recovery, he sorrow- 
fully shook his head. 

I questioned him concerning his thoughts and previsions, 
but could only get a shake of the head in reply. 

I tried to lead his mind to God and His mercy to the chiefest 
of sinners, and to as many as I could remember of the promises 
of the Bible. But his only response was a head-shake, deno- 
ting profoundest misery and deepest despair. 

After fairly exhausting myseif in these directions, I, too, be- 
came silent. In thought I felt myself carried far back to a 
bedroom in the house of Thomas Bartley, where I heard my 
mother— up to the throat in death— enjoining me, again and 
again: *' If ever you meet him, and who knows but you will, 
try and remember he is your father; try and forget his sins, 
and, if you can do him any good, do it ! " Then would my mind 
revert to the night on which Seth died, when I met my uncle 
near the Hall Park ; to the words with which he enlightened 
me as to the history of my family, and to the things which my 
brother Bob had, on the same night, softly and in the darkness 
of our room, told me concerning my father — his descent of the 
downward path, his extravagance and his cruelties towards 
mother. I remembered how I was obliged to stutf the bed- 
sheets into my mouth lest I should cry out while Bob was tell- 
ing me of mother, compelled to stay away from chapel because 
of blackened eyes, after a beating from my father. I remem- 
bered wondering how she could pray for him who had just 
struck her, and while her blood was yet undried upon her 
apron from the blow. O, how I hated the wretch then ! How 
glad did I feel that I had never seen his face ! But now I was 
at his side, I heard the words— not as an echo of the past, but 
as if they were being spoken for the first time by the same 



420 RHYS LEWIS. 



sweet lips: "If ever you meet him, and who knows but you 
will, try and remember he is your father ; try and forget his 
sins, and, if you can do him any good, do it ! " Yes, I was 
gazing upon him, my father ! Hardly could I realise the fact. 
He, the once strong man lay before me a helpless heap ; and 
there was no need of the aroma of whiskey which filled the 
room to assist me to a correct conclusion as to the means by 
which he had been brought to this pitiful state. My uncle and 
he had run their course almost neck and neck. 

Should I reveal myself to him ? Would that be wise ? Would 
it serve any good purpose ? Obviously, his life was near its 
close ; and I had done all in my power to make him under- 
stand the seriousness of the situation. I had tried to set be- 
fore him the graciousness of the Gospel, and how it bade the 
greatest sinner hope, to the last. I had reminded him of those 
who had been called at the eleventh hour, and of the thief ou 
the Cross ; but nothing 1 could say touched his feeling or 
kindled any sort of interest in him. I asked if I should pray 
with him ; and he resolutely refused. What more could I do 
for him ? I never saw a man with so wretched a look ; and I 
trust I never shall again. He seemed as one who had taken leave 
of all comfort and hope, and was fast sinking into darkness, 
strange and unfathomable. My allusions to the promises 
of Scripture only made him take one more plunge into the 
depths. The verses I quoted, instead of consoling terrified 
him, as old acquaintances whom he dreaded to meet; and I 
noticed that, with what of strength remained to him, he tried to 
move farther away from me towards the wall. He sometimes 
seemed agitated, as if his heart were fired, for he would 
clutch at the bed clothes tightly. At other times he becama 
quieter, as if he had started on a long journey down into him- 
self and had forgotten that I was in the room. But he would 
presently return, and, alter looking -wildly about him and see- 
ing I was still there, would move uneasily towards the wall. I 
felt my presence was a burden to him, and that he was in a 
hurry for me to leave ; because he held out his hand more than 
once towards the whiskey bottle on the little table by his side, 
withdrawing it again when he found I was looking at him. 

By this time he took but little notice of anything I said and. 



RHYS LEWIS. 421 



fearing I could do him no good, I got up to go. But the words 
again recurred to me, '* If ever you meet him," &c., as if thev 
had come from another world. Would I have done my best by 
him if I did not speak to him in Welsh, and tell him who I 
was ? Would it not be something for him to know that my 
mother had forgiven him his inhuman conduct towaids her, 
even were that the only forgiveness he ever tasted? I deter- 
mined to reveal myself, and tried to pray that it would affect 
him for good. 

** Eobert Lewis," I said to him, in Welsh; " do you know 
who is speaking to you !'" 

He started at the question and stared hard at me, as he had 
not done before. He fixed his eves on me —marvellously bright 
eyes, like two lamps lighting up his way to the darkness of 
despair, to be speedily quenched alter his passing. I divined 
that his mind was wandering back in search of some re- 
miniscence of me ; unsuccessfully, of course. 

"I am your son, Rhys Lewis," I went on. *• Father, you 
will be glad to bear that my mother forgave you everything 
before she died." 

I repented a thousand times that the words ever escaped 
my lips. They wore brief, but they pained him more than all 
I had said. If I had thrown a bucket of fire over him the 
effect could not have been more fearful. He writhed and 
twisted in the most indescribable torment. In a shriek of 
fury, and with a loice of which I had not deemed him capable, 
he ordered me out of his sight. 

*' Go away ! Go away !" he screamed, recoiling from me as 
if I were an adder, and pressing himself close against the wall, 
which he would have gone through, if he only could. 

Alarmed by his bowlings, the woman of the house rushed 
into the room and looked at me like a lioness. What, she ask- 
ed me, furiously, had I done to the sick man ? I feared she 
would have planted her nails in my face and, altogether too 
overcome to give her any explanation, I fled from the spot for 
very life. Eecalling that sight, the words of the unclean spirits 



422 RHYS LEWIS. 



came often to my mind : "art thou come hither to torment ns 
before the time?" and the words of Ellis Wynn of Glasynye— 

Second sight I'd not have had, 

For worlds a myriad; 
Though they were pangs I suffered notw 

The visit lasted only twenty minutes or so, but it forms the 
blackest spot in all my history. I admit I did not feel the ansruish 
which would have been natural to a son who saw his father 
in such a condition, because I had never had any regard for 
the man. Horror is the fittest word to describe the sensation 
at my heart. The sight made me wretched, and the only 
comfort I could extract from it was that I had carried out, to 
the best of my ability, the last wishes of my mother. 

The Sergeant and Will Bryan were expecting me at the 
appointed spot. I told them the result of my visit, and got a 
rebuke from Will for not having " chucked up tne idea," as he 
had advised. By this time I was in a hurry to return to Bala, 
the examination taking place in the following week, which 
would be the final one for me. I guessed the Sergeant had 
something to say to me, and guessed correctly. 

*' Rhys," said he in an aside, ** have you anything to conceal 
from Bryan ?" 

•* Nothing," I replied. 

*• Good," he rejoined, adding aloud, ** Well boys, where 
shall we go to I"" 

*' I am for returning to Bala at once," I remarked. 

•• You don't go from here to-day if I had to chain you by the 
leg, as William the Coal does with Duka," declared Will. 

But neither the Sergeant nor Will could prevail upon me 
to stay. Will told me there was no train for an hour and a 
half, and I took his word. He conducted the Sergeant and 
myself to an hotel where we could get something to eat or, as 
he expressed it, "a last blow out on account of yours truly." 
I made but a very poor meal, being anxious to catch every 
word which fell from Sergeant Williams, ot which I here 
present a summary. 



RBYS LEWIS. 423 



♦* It is many years, Lewis," said the Sergeant, ** since I last 
saw you. That was on the night I came to your house to take 
your brother Bob into custody. I shall never forget that night 
as long as I live. I knew Bob to be innocent, and yet I was 
bound to arrest him. Bob and I were great friends, and I 
knew your mother very well. You remember, because I saw 
you running from the house, the two men who set upon us as 
we were leaving the court-yard. You know who they were. I 
made the other policeman promise to say nothing about the 
affair. Their object, as you know, was to give Bob a chance oi 
escape, if he had only taken it. Next day, I met the owner of 
the Hall, as he was going to Church, and told him I was 
certain that Bob, John Powell and Morris Hughes were 
innocent, and that it was a mistake to have them locked up. 
He got into a bad way, swore at me, and called me a fool for 
interfering. I told him to hasten to Church to pray. From 
that very minute, I knew my doom was sealed. The old knave 
never rested until he had me removed. You remember the 
slaughter of his pheasants on the night Bob was sent to the 
county gaol ? It was the colliers who were blamed ; but was 
it they who did it ? No fear. I knew very well there were in 
the country two men of far greater daring than all the colliers 
put together. Bob knew it, too, and so did your mother, poor 
thing ! After what had happened, I was not the man to go 
and tell the owner of the Hall who it was. If I had seen all 
his preserves on fire, and knew I could put out the flames by 
spitting on them, I wouldn't have done so; for his treatment of 
me was worse than a dog's. After Bob was sent to prison I 
had a very bad time of it. Nearly everybody hated me, 
although I couldn't help what had happened. Before that 
bother, I had a great many friends about, but they all cooled 
towards me, and towards every policeman in the place. I 
wasn't at all sorry to leave. I have lived here ever since, and 
a in now middling comfortable. About three years ago, quite 
accidentally, I lighted on your father. He got into a dreadful 
funk on seeing me, for he remembered I knew he had been 
guilty of something worse than poaching. But he needn't have 
feared, and I told him so. A very fine policeman, ain't I ? 
But I felt I was under an obligation to your mother and to Bob, 



424 RHYS LEWIS. 



and I had no inclination to rake up old stories. After that, I 
met him many times ; and, before he became an utter slave to 
drink, I used to visit him at his lodgings for a chat and a 
bit of news of the old home, which he and your uncle often 
visited, raiding the squire's game. They didn't conceal the 
fact from me, and I wouldn't have cared had they stoleu every 

pheasant in the place, for I owed the old a grudjje. I 

never liked your uncle, but I could get along very well with 
your father; the reason, perhaps, being that we both had such 
a deadly enmity toward the squire. Your uncle never cared 
who owned the game, as long as he could get hold of it; but 
your father took a special pleasure in saying above his prey : 
* Here's the Hall owner's birds! They've cost him ten shillings 
a head ! * Your father and uncle feathered the estate system- 
atically throughout the years, and if you were to put me on my 
oath, I could not swear that some of the pheasants have not 
been on my table, for I was a friend of your father's. Fine 
policeman, ain't I ? In the eating of those pheasants, my old 
vengeance was better than any sauce. I used to wonder why 
the two escaped capture for so long, until I got the explanation. 
You remember Niclas of Garth Ddu? It was he who managed 
their expeditions, and found the pair a hiding place. Your 
father would tell me Nic'las was an old dealer in game, who 
knew half the poachers in the kingdom, and had done business 
with most of them. He had made a lot of money that way, and 
your father and uncle had been regular customers of his before 
he retired. It was your father who persuaded him to buy 
Garth Ddu, which was a city of refuge for him and your uncle 
ever after. The two kept up a constant correspondence with 
old Nic'las. As you yourself are aware, no one over yonder 
looked on old Nic'las as quite a yard * square ; ' but your 
father told me, many times, that if ever anybody was thirty- 
seven inches to the yard, Nic'las was the man. It was he who 
was their scout, and he took pleasure in the work. He walked 
the old paths, through the Hall Park and Berth Goch, at 
every hour of the night, without being suspected by anybody, 
but feared, rather, as a lunatic. He knew the exact spot 
which the keepers were watching, every night through the year. 
All that happened in the town was carried to him by the old 



RHYS LEWIS. 425 



woman, Modlen. How your father used to lau?h while telling 
me of the jolly nights they spent at Garth Ddu after a big 
catch ! But it is all over now ! You probably know Nic'las 
has left Garth Ddu. 0, yes ; he has sold the place these three 
months. He's living here now, looking the same as when I 
first saw him. It is he who supports your father. When your 
father dies, no one knows where Nic'las'll be next day. You 
must remem.ber what I have told you is strictly confidential," 

By now I had finished ray business at B . I had got more 

light on what had been dark to me previously than I expected, 
and was in a hurry to return. The Sergeant and Will came with 
me to the railway station, the latter, with perfect frankness, say- 
ing : " If I bad known you were going to leave us on such short 
notice, you'd have had no drag through the sheets last night, for 
I haven't told you the thousandth part of what I want to. It is 
just like a preacher shutting up directly he has got into the 
swing. A thing of this sort is not true to nature. By the time 
I reach myself and go home, you won't be there, for you'll bo 
minister at Llangogor or somewhere, and I shall be without a 
chum." 

" You are not certain of that, Will," I remarked, " What do 
you think ? (the train was about to start), I've had a call to 
the pastorate of Bethel church, and I do not now see there is 
anything to prevent my accepting it." 

Will, smiling joyously at the news, said, "Fact? (the train 
was moving). Well, bye bye, and remember to be true to " 

I did not catch the other word, but I guessed what it was, 
for I had heard the phrase hundreds of times before. Had I 
known at the moment that that was the last time I should hear 
the voice and see the face of my friend, my heart would have 
been sadder than it was, for, in spite of all his failings, his wit, 
honesty and naturalness, combined with his great fidelity to me 
when I was a boy, had made him a place in my heart from 
which I could never oust him, if I wished to. And I miss him 
sadly still. 

Speeding my way back, I made a strong effort to forget the 
past, and to think only of the future. My whole being had 
received such a shock, and my mind was so sore disturbed, that 
I dreaded seeing examination day come round. I knew I 



426 RHYS LEWIS. 



should take a lower place than if what I have chronicled had 
not happened. This was a source of great worry to me. I 
foresaw that some would be ready to say I had been lazy, than 
which I could not imagine a more odious accusation, nor one 
from which I was more free, whatever might be my other short- 
comings. Then I would think of my father in his deplorable 
condition. How fearful ! And yet I felt some calmness of 
conscience at the thought that I had done my best for him ; and 
I fancied, if fancy it were, hearing a well-known voice saying: 
'• Do not grieve, my son. You have done your duty, as I my- 
self did mine, by him. Between him and God be it, now." 

A ray of light shot across my mind. Not in vain had been my 

journey to B . I persuaded myself that my encounter 

with Will Bryan was a blessing. I had reason to believe that 
he was not left untroubled by serious thoughts about his 
condition. He gave me his word that he would go to chapel, 
and I knew Will did not consider the man who broke his 
promise to be true to nature. Besides, I felt I was eternally 
rid of the nightmare which had haunted me for so many years. 
Henceforth I could apply myself to the work of preaching with- 
out fear of my name being brought into disgrace. 

What now troubled me most was the examination. I was 
certain I should cut a sorry figure at it. But I was spared. 
When I reached Bala I felt very queer. I thought the old 
town had entirely changed within the last two days. I fancied 
I had made a mistake, and that 1 had got out at the wrong 
station. I was thankful it was late, for my limbs trembled, 
and I feared people would take me for a drunken man. After 
much trouble I reached my lodgings. With a great doubt on 
the subject, I opened the door. But I was right after all, for 
here was Williams shaking hands with me heartily. I have no 
recollection of anything else. 

Nine or ten days later I found myself in bed. It was day- 
light, and I tried to sit up, but could not. I saw Williams at 
my side, and heard him say, " Well, lad ; how do you feel ?" 

To which I answered, ** What is the matter? Who has been 
beating me ? Where have I been ?" 

With a brightening face, he bade me be quiet and told me I 
had been very ill. 



RHYS LEWIS, 427 



••What day is it?" I asked. ♦•When does the Exam 
fce-m ?" 

•' It is over, since yesterday," he replied. *• So you shan't be 
at either top or bottom this time. You must try and keep 
€till. You have been in a heavy fever, ravingr day and ni^ht 
about Will Bryan and some Sergeant. But you're on the road 
to recovery now, and I am heartily glad of it. Oh ! here is Dr. 

H . Well, Doctor, there's some sense to be got from 

him to-day." 

••Has he got tired of talking of Will Bryan?" asked the 
Doctor. •' It's about time he changed his story now." 

Dr. H was a popular man, skilful and lively, with 

■only one fault : he would never send a bill to a student. He 
joked with me a deal that day. I asked him when should I go 
home. 

"You must first go to Jericho," he said, ••and stay there 
till your hair grows." 

I felt my head. Alas ! My hair had been all sheared away. 
1 mourned it greatly, being prouder than I thought I was. I 
inquired how long it would take my hair to grow so that I 
shouldn't be a fright to myself and to others. Weeks passed 
^before I got strong enough to go home. Williams stayed a 
fortnight with me, behaving towards me with indescribable 
kindness. A few days before wishing each other good bye I 
gave him the substance of that long history which I have now 
nearly finished, which I believe no living soul knows except he 
and Will Bryan, anJ of which the facts, if they ever see the 
light, after I have gone the unreturnable way, will not be 
new to those two. 



CHAPTER XLII. 

THE MINISTER OF BETHEL. 

I MUST now bring my Autobiography to an end, for the same 
reason, partly, as that which induced me to begin it. What was 
that ? I will give it in a very few words. I have spent some years 
at Bethel in the capacity of a pastor. When I began to write, 
I intended the history of those years to form the most important 



428 RHYS LEWIS, 



part of my work. I now see that this is out of the question, 
and I am sorry for having taken so much time in speaking of les9 
worthy topics. It was not without a great deal of serious reflec- 
tion that I undertook, before I wasitwenty-three years old, the 
pastorate of the church I was reared in. It was myself I feared 
and not the church, for I knew every one of the members, who 
were easily-accessible, kindly people. I wanted no time to 
make myself at home. In ?oing to Miss Hughes's to lodge, I 
was but returning to my old habitation. All that was new to 
me was the work. It is not for me to say what adapability I 
possessed for my duties ; but I can say that my heart was full 
of them, and that my desire to perform them in the best way 
possible knew no bounds. I felt that my undertaking the 
office gave evidence of hish aspiration, and often was self- 
abashed in consequence. But I think the responsibility thus 
cast upon me, induced me to pray more. If I was bound to fail, 
I determined it should not be by reason of indolence, careless- 
ness and self-sufficiency. I worked hard— possibly too hard — 
but I take no credit to myself for that — I couldn't help it. My 
stipend was small, but it was enough; my needs were not 
great. Indeed, I think I found consolation many times in the 
meagreness of my pay. It was not sufficiently large to bring me 
uneasiness of mind, and it was too small for anyone else to be at 
the pains of reproaching me. Had anybody done so, I fear I 
should have refused it altogether ; there being a deal of mother's 
unreasoning independence about me. But no one ever did. I 
tried to do my duty ; and I had in me an ambition, a principle, 
or something, to give satisfaction to those whom I served. 
The harder I worked the calmer became my mind, the easier I 
could sleep of nights. If I slackened mv hands, my old enemy, 
low spiritedness, assailed me on the instant. I have not had 
much cause to complain since I am here ; and even if I had, 
there were occasions enough for thankfulness to make me hold 
my peace. I was not overlooked by the Monthly Meeting, and 
was selected for ordination much sooner than I deserved. I 
got every assistance and encouragement from David Davis and 
*' Eos;" every kindness from the church in general and the 
young people in particular. 
About two years ago. I thought this kindness was becoming 



RHYS LEWIS. 429 



more and more marked. If I had a journey of six or eight 
miles to make, David Davis would insist upon lending me his 
horse. Miss Hughes was more than usually careful that I 
had enough clothes about me. Thomas Bartley was constant in 
enjoining me to eat plenty of ham and eggs, while others ex- 
horted me to take care of myself. The interest taken in me 
made me think of inquiring into the cause. I knew I did not de- 
serve all this. "What, then, was the reason for it ? I was not long 
in finding out, and, having once found it, I could detect it 
in the looks and the demeanor of all my friends towards me. 
/ was failing in health, I had never teen strong, and although I 
had for some time seen that my strength was declining, I had 
not apprehended any danger. Others perceived it before I did. 
When I realised the fact, my spirit sank within me. The doc- 
tor tried to cheer me by saying it was only a little weakness, 
for which I wanted change of air and rest. "Wliere should I p-o 
to ? I liked the sea side. No, I should not go there ; it would 
be best I went to Trefriw. I understood the hint. Yes, 0, sea ! 
It is with thee I was compelled to begin the severance of my 
earthly connection. The pang it was ! Although thou always 
made'st me sad, I loved to roam thy shores. I felt thy sound 
to correspond to something in my bosom which I could not 
define ; that thou didst convey some message to me, from the 
far off distances, concerning the Unknown I But I was now 
prohibited from visiting thee ! 

At Trefriw I met several old friends, some of whom were fool- 
ish enough to express their astonishment at seeing me so much 
better. They tried to comfort me, to rejoice with me and cause 
me to forget myself; but, beneath their joy, I detected a serious 
anxiety. How I envied them their sprightliness and vigour ! I 
got great benefit from my stay at Trefriw, and, before leaving, 
was able to enjoy a little of the innocent fun which was car- 
ried on at the Well. From this I thought I had taken a turn for 
the better. I cannot tell the satisfaction and the pleasure which 
filled my breast, in consequence. When I returned to Bethel, 
the friends there were surprised and delighted at the change 
which had taken place in me. I preached on the Sabbath fol- 
lowing without feeling the slightest weariness; and great 
was my happiness thereat. 



430 RBYS LEWIS. 



Weeks afterwards I found I had gone back to the old mark. 
Thinking I had nothing to do but to re-visit Trefriw, and no 
one being able to persuade me to the contrary, I went. As far 
as I could see, I was the only stranger in the village. The 
weather was cold and wet. I kept my room for four days be- 
fore returning home, worse in health than when I left. I 
feared the doctor did not understand my complaint, and fell to 
searching the newspapers for quack advertisements. I secretly 
spent much money before discovering that the announcements 
were lies and the testimonials but creations of the advertisers' 
fancy. I could not conceal from myself the fact that my health 
and strength were declining, for I felt preaching to be getting 
more difficult every Sunday. The occasional beginning of 
service by some kindly deacon gave me an indication of my 
real condition and depressed me greatly. At first I refused 
the preferred kindness which I subsequently, however, grate- 
fully accepted. It is over a year since I preached last ; but I 
think I would have gone on longer had I not consulted another 
doctor who told me the truth, and ordered me to give up the 
work at once. Should the truth be at all times told ? This 
is a truth I am bound to tell— I grieved a good deal that tnat 
doctor did not keep the truth from me. It was a terrible truth 
and one which sank my spirit into frightful depths. I had no 
desire to speak to any one for some time afterwards. There 
was aroused in me a fierce craving for life of which I had not 
been conscious hitherto. I felt as if I had been deceived by 
that on which I had most depended. For days and nights I 
quarrelled, in my mind, with doctors, fate, Providence and, I 
fear, God. I saw daily passing my window much older men 
than I, sturdy, strong and broad-chested ; some of them curs- 
ing, swearing and getting drunk ; while I, poor wretch, had a 
chest like a ricketty basket. Who was it ordered things 
in this way ? Was all but a blind, unreasoning medley ? My 
plans had been frustrated, and I felt keenly the force and edge 
of the saying, *' In that very day his thoughts perish." I had 
by me several sermons on de? th, the other world, and similar 
subjects ; but how worthless they had become by this time ! 
How cold and how soul-less ! If I had the opportunity, how 
much better I could preach now than before ! It took me 



RHYS LEWIS. 43 » 



weeks to learn how to submit to the inevitable and to give in 
mv resignation. How hard the struggle ! By now, everything 
appeared in a new aspect. Those subjects in which I used to 
take the deepest interest— politics and literature tor instance — 
lost all their charm, and I wondered having ever been deligh- 
ted by them. The range of my studies diminished daily until 
my mind at last gave itself up entirely to matters which con- 
cerned my spiritual fate. No longer did those truths which I 
had once found the greatest pleasure in preaching do aught 
but sadden me and sink me down into depths of sorrow un- 
speakable. 

But, by grace of Heaven, I presently mastered my melan- 
choly. I got to feel readier to recognise God's hand,. 
and to throw myself into His arms. I occasionally caught 
glimpses of ineffable happiness and flashes of light upon 
the order of the Gospel, which I had never experienced 
before I was afflicted. There were times when I went 
into silent raptures over my condition, and a powerful 
longing took possession of me for the perfection and glory of 
the spiritual world. Now and again I could contemplate my 
body and its weakness as something apart from myself, and 
laugh at both. I would afterwards subside into a pleasing- 
peace, and reflect upon the disagreeable things from which I 
had been saved by this break-down of my strength by the way. 
Permitted to live, I might have been overcome by some tempta- 
tion or other, which would have brought me and my calling 
into disgrace. Thinking of some I had known, what a mercy 
it was they had died young ! Again there would come 
periods of dejection, of giving way to morbid and profitless 
brooding. During one of them, I was struck by this very 
strange fancy : If Providence was for taking me hence in the 
midst of my days, could I not compensate myself by living over 
again (in my own mind), the whole of my life, and so Gouble 
it? Could I not, as my strength permitted, devote a few hours, 
every day, to going over the principal events of my career? 
This would keep me from stewing amongst unprofitable matter, 
and from eating myself up before my time. In one position I 
was pretty free from pain, and perhaps the writing of my Auto- 
biography might do me good. The outcome of that fancy has 
been the present copious writing. It is the work of a serious 



43« RHYS LEWIS, 



man, though that may seem improbable to those who remem- 
ber the various amusing incidents it contains. But there is 
nothing strange in that. If there be found here too much 
mention of Will Bryan, I flatter myself there are some things 
here, also, which every thoughful man. — every man who has 
been awakened to the great questions of life— is bound To 
ponder. Were it otherwise, the fire would have been the fit- 
test place for the manuscript. 

I should have been glad to note something more definite and 
cheering with respect to Will Bryan. But I have not heard any- 
thing from him, for some time. In his last letter to me he saul 
he had finished paying his father's debts, and that he continued 
to attend the Welsh Chapel, but that, as yet, he had not ''reach- 
ed himself." My last letter to him was returned marked— 
"left without address." It is months since then, and I never 
heard from him afterwards. Has Will gone out with the tide ? 
No ; I have a presentiment that at the last he will turn up safe. 

My mother, as I have stated, charged rae, upon her death-bed 
to requite the Bartleys for their kindness to her. But I never got 
the chance. The boot is on the other leg. The kindness of 
both towards me has had no end; their sympathy with me 
in my illness is beyond measure, and very precious. Their un- 
derstanding is limited, and I have many times debated the 
object of their creation. And yet I envy them. Both are well, 
both happy and likely to live for many years to come. Even 
if they put their heads together they could not read a verse ; 
but they enjoy religion, and doubtless possess its strength. 
So close is the similarity and union between them, that I almost 
believe they will die the same day. I do not see how Thomas 
and Barbara can possibly live apart. 

If someone should go to the trouble of reading this history, 
it may be he will wonder why I have made so much mention of 
things connected with my family which are dishonorable ; and 
perhaps he will ask, in Will Bryan's words, whether this is 
* true to nature ?" But how could the history be difi'erent and 
be true ? And, after I have gone hence, who will be injured ? 
No one need bow the head, because I am the last of my iamily. 

In looking over what I have written, I see I have, from 
forgetfulness, left some things untouched which I would like 
to ha^ve dealt with; while other things have been purposely 
omitted. To all seeming, it is not likely I shall ever revise this 
account, because the writing of the latter portions of it has 
been burdensome to me; as, I fear, the perusal will be to 
others. If it so happen, the reader can do as I have done— lay 
it by when he has become tired. 

Tub End. 



Date Due 


















































































































































(|) 









/ 



BOSTON COLLEGE 



3 9031 01186614 2 

185638 



185"38 



Author 



utnor ^ . ^ 



Title 
Rhys i^ewis minister of R^thel 



Wrexham^ Hughes and son, 1915 



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